Development initiatives in hostels in South Africa.
Vedalankar, Vidhulekha Nardev.
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Hostels have become synonymous with the migrant labour system in South Africa. They were first introduced on the mines to house workers cheaply. The significant feature of these hostels was that they were for "single" males - they did not cater for the housing needs of workers families. Their design made them useful, to the employers, in controlling their workers. As the manufacturing and construction sectors grew, hostels similar to those one the mines were replicated in most urban centres in South Africa. They were useful in reducing the cost of reproducing labour by externalising these costs to the reserves, later the bantustans. At the same time they performed a valuable political role by ridding the "white" urban areas of the "swart gevaar". This role was reinforced during the period of Apartheid, and hostels are therefore seen as "artefacts of the era of apartheid". More recently they became notorious as "urban fortresses" from which acts of violence were perpetrated, particularly on the Reef. As the country moves towards a post-apartheid non-racial democracy the injustices and inhumanities of the hostel system will have to be redressed. The miserable and wretched conditions will have to be transformed and hostels will have to be integrated into "normal" community life. The recent violence succeeded, at great cost, in instilling a sense of urgency for the transformation of hostels, so as to reduce the potential for further conflict and violence. All the major actors committed themselves to a national development initiative to transform hostels. Hostels however, are a complex phenomenon, serving varying functions and performing many roles. There is therefore a need for a more thorough understanding of the various features of hostels to inform any intervention if it is going to be meaningful or lasting. This dissertation examines the complexities of the hostel question with a view to informing development interventions in hostels. In this thesis the focus is on physical/spatial planning interventions.