Privatising public space in post-apartheid South African cities through neighbourhood enclosures

Landman, K.

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Landman, K. (2006). Privatising public space in post-apartheid South African cities through neighbourhood enclosures. GeoJournal, 66(1–2), 133–146.

Enclosed neighborhoods , Gated Communities , post-apartheid South African cities , Privatising Public Space , Spatial Fragmentation

In the past five years the numbers of enclosed neighbourhoods have significantly increased in South Africa. These are existing neighbourhoods that are closed off through gates and booms across the roads. Many of these neighbourhoods are fenced or walled off as well, with a limited number of controlled entrances/exits, manned by security guards in some cases. The roads within these neighbourhoods were previously, or still are public property and in most cases the local council is still responsible for public services to the community within the enclosed neighbourhoods. In this way public urban space is privatised, whether formally or informally. I will explore the distribution of enclosed neighbourhoods in South Africa on a national scale and within two metropolitan municipalities, viz., the cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane. Then I proceed to highlight the nature and impact of these neighbourhoods on the privatisation of public space and draw on a wide basis of empirical data obtained through a national survey and in-depth case studies. Finally I will conclude with examples of lessons learnt from South Africa and how these may relate to international experience and future research on gated communities.

Main finding
Neighborhood enclosures have both physical and symbolic effects. Physically, they decrease accessibility, restrict movement patterns, and increase congestion, in some cases impacting emergency services. Symbolically, they represent exclusion, leading to stereotyping and public backlash. Any interpretation of how this practice will continue in the future will have to understand the symbolic meaning of enclosures in the context of post-apartheid Africa.

Description of method used in the article
The author draws on case studies in Johannesburg and Tshwane, including interviews, observations, surveys and spatial analysis.

Of some practical use if combined with other research

Organising categories

Crime and Aggression
Case Study Survey
Urban Design
Physical types
Geographic locations