The destruction and remarking of 'community' : a case study of the magazine barracks residents' relocation to Chatsworth.
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The forced removals resulting from the implementation of the National Party Government’s Group Areas Act (1950) have had drastic implications for millions of South Africans across the country. Not surprisingly, there is a rich body of research on the motives, as well as the political and economic consequences, of this destructive piece of legislation. This study sought to move beyond these broader approaches which examined Group Areas from at a macro-level, by focusing specifically on the subjective experiences of one particular social group, who were affected by forced removals and how they rebuilt their lives. It focuses on South Africans of Indian decent (hitherto referred to as Indians) who were employed by the Durban Corporation, and lived in the Magazine Barracks which was one of several labour barracks located around the city of Durban during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From the 1880s, low-paid Indian municipal employees lived in overcrowded conditions in the poorly built barracks. However, they adjusted to this lifestyle and devised mechanisms to cope with their daily challenges through voluntary networks and a strong culture of sharing and self-help. During the 1960s, the approximately 10 000 residents of the Magazine Barracks were displaced and relocated to Chatsworth, where they were split up and accommodated in different sections of the mammoth housing scheme. This has had drastic implications for former residents of the barracks and this study probes into the ways in which they responded to laws which were impose upon them.