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Article
The First Townships
In 1901 there was a serious outbreak of plague, which arrived from Argentina in naval supplies. The plague prompted the authorities to clean up the slums that had developed in the fast growing city, but also to pursue policies of racial segregation to 'contain' disease and disorder.

The first planned township, named Uitvlugt, was established in 1901 at Ndabeni (an area between modern-day Pinelands and the N1).

The township comprised 5 large dormitories each housing 500 men, and 615 lean-to huts made of corrugated irons, without floors, which often flooded in the winter rains. Washing and cooking facilities were public and inadequate, and the grid-like streets were patrolled by African constables.

Residents were described as 'Hottentot, Malay and mixed races', in other words Coloured rather than African. The location was home to 'permitted workers' in the city, and since employers no longer had to accommodate these workers, the township was popular in the business community.

Interestingly, before Uitvlugt was set up, some of Cape Town's African residents saw it as a model location that could give them opportunities difficult to find in the competitive town. They requested that 'Native Police' be employed, that all businesses in the location be run by Africans and that residents be allowed to buy and build their own houses.

However the government was unsympathetic and trading rights were granted under the same conditions as Europeans, and Jewish traders started to dominate. African traders were allowed to run bakeries and eateries, but under such restrictions that it was hard to survive in the depression years prior to the First World War.

Historians consider that the existence of this location suppressed the development of a permanent population of Africans in Cape Town (Bickford Smith, van Heynigen and Worden 1999:46). Previously, unemployed men were able to live in town, perhaps marry a local resident and struggle along. But with the establishment of the township came labour supply regulations and a system of passes. These regulations forced unemployed men in the city to return to their 'rural homes' in the Transkei.

Within a year, 6 churches were established and education for children and adults was offered through a government primary school, an Anglican school and 7 night schools. Employers in Cape Town centre were not keen on these opportunities, saying that their domestic servants were attracted to the location to attend the evening classes, and that if children were going to school it would be 'difficult to recruit servants from the juvenile ranks'.


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