|In the 1960s Prime Minister
Hendrik Verwoerd pursued a policy of 'Grand Apartheid', which established
'independent tribal homelands', such as the Transkei. The plan made it possible
to exclude blacks from a right to live in 'South Africa'. A rule was imposed in
1965 by which African workers had to return to their 'homeland' at the end of
an employment contract, then re-apply to work in the Cape Town area. This was
supposed to prevent any growth in the numbers of black 'permanent residents' in
During the 1960s the South African economy grew rapidly, and
while this helped keep a lid on protest, it raised the need for more black
labour. The government, however, refused to issue more passes for Africans to
work in Cape Town, on the grounds that the Western Cape should become a 'safe
white homeland' as well as offer 'a future for coloured people'.
Black people 'endorsed out' of Cape Town were sent to
'resettlement camps' in the Eastern Cape where they lived in atrocious
conditions. Within Cape Town's townships, municipal beer halls and liquor
stores were opened in spite of local opposition. The sale of alcohol helped to
finance the enforcement of apartheid.
Yet, in spite of the influx regulations Cape Town still grew considerably.
Official figures show an increase in the 'legal' African population from 70,000
in 1960 to 160,000 in 1974, and it is estimated that there were a further
90,000 'illegals'. The springing up of more shanty towns north and south of the
airport showed that apartheid was failing to achieve its aims.
Between 1972 and 1975 the government tried once more to remove African
communities from the Cape by the demolition of shanty towns such as Unibel and
Modderdam. Modderdam squatter camp was destroyed by two bulldozers during one
week in August 1977. As residents watched their homes being razed they sang
freedom songs and hymns, charged policemen and threw furniture onto the road.
Some even set fire to their own shacks before the authorities could reach
The authorities tried - and ultimately failed - to stem the
tide of migration of blacks to Cape Town by destroying squatter camps. The most
well known case was the Crossroads community that developed on vacant land near
the airport and stubbornly resisted eviction (more..)
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· Culture ·
In this period of Cape History: