Land ownership, housing and informal settlements constitute, arguably, the most endemic colonial and apartheid legacy. Generally, informal settlements have been dealt with in a reactive manner by the ANC government and policy-programmes, such as the “Breaking New Ground”, have failed to halt the growth of informal settlements. This research, which focuses on Mamelodi, a township northeast of Tshwane, sought to discover how informal settlement growth could be proactively managed. By analysing Landsat satellite imagery of the study area over a 20-year period, the trend and growth of informal settlements is established. Policy, strategic and report document analysis and key informant interviews were triangulated to provide an understanding of the differences between official positions and grassroots’ ‘demands’.
The findings of this research are that: poor people on the ground need land and housing and have their own concept of what constitutes residential prime land and denying them these lands leads to land invasion. Consequently there is a general mistrust by the informal settlement dwellers of the processes of land acquisition, ownership and formal housing allocation. The government on the other hand, seeking to uphold the Constitution and the Land Act 19 of 1998 (PIE), appears to deny the poor access to land. Moreover, the Land satellite imagery reveal that Mamelodi has expanded largely towards the East, to a great extent, because of the informal settlements that were established mainly through land invasion in the area, while the West boundaries have remained relatively fixed throughout the growth of Mamelodi. Four main informal settlements (i.e. Extension 11, Phomolong, Alaska and Stoffel Park) have been established in the area between 1994 and 2014. The conclusion is that the land issue could be best addressed through proactive land acquisition and redistribution (PLAR) by the government in consultation with the poor.