The figure gives a visual impression of the sociospatial inequalities of the contemporary South African city. This urban form originated under Apartheid, but has been reinforced by widening income inequalities and rural / urban migration. The height of each column represents the population density of that particular district of the city. The column’s footprint is the geographical extent of the area. Thus, the volume of each column reflects the total number of people living in that area. Some 40% of all jobs are concentrated in the central city. The spikes around the periphery are overcrowded informal settlementsöthe normal entry points to the city for poor rural migrants.
Mitchells Plain is the largest formal township, originally built for `coloureds’ in the 1970s and 1980s, now with many backyard shacks because of housing shortages. Khayelitsha was declared a township for `Africans’ in the 1980s, and has grown rapidly from scratch despite its poor access to opportunities. The population of the former `white’ southern and northern suburbs combined is less than either Mitchells Plain or Khayelitsha. This spatial structure is inequitable and inefficient, and poses complex challenges for urban planning, management, transportation, and sustainability.
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