Apartheid in South Africa Essay example

Submitted By Trumanh-11
Words: 2198
Pages: 9

Truman Hooker
Geog. 554
Dec. 5th, 2013

Fear in South African Cities

Any discussion about South African cities after apartheid cannot avoid the issue of crime. This fear of crime has led to the spatial segregation of many cities in South Africa, especially Cape Town. In opinion polls, people of all social backgrounds cite crime and unemployment as the most important problems facing the country. These public concerns with crime are reflected in the high rates of hostility towards “others” or people who are different from themselves. The use of the term “other” draws from Edward Said’s notion of “other” as an invented concept, in which one social group constructs the identity of the “other” social group only in relation to themselves rather as a separate entity. As a result, the understanding of “other” only exists for the group that creates such a label. For example, wealthy South Africans describe the poor in terms of otherness, and link poverty with violence and deviance. Another example from Davis (2006), in Slum Ecology (pg.147), is the long history of defining the West in opposition to a hallucinatory Eastern Other. This dualistic mentality only leads to an “us” versus “them” mentality, which legitimizes exclusionary practices due to fear of crime, but is actually a consequence of prejudiced fear. David Sibley studies social and spatial exclusion and shows how marginalized people are excluded through space to demonstrate the boundaries of society. In Geographies of Exclusion, Sibley explains the history of images, which shows minorities as imperfect people, who are different and who need to be purified. Furthermore, these outsiders pose a threat to the dominant group in society. He writes; “Portrayals of minorities as defiling and threatening have long been used to order society internally and to demarcate the boundaries of society, beyond which lie those who do not belong” (p. 49). In South Africa walls and gates exclude the undesirables. As a result, boundaries are created to distance themselves from these defiled “others”. Space has been used to create hierarchies, which divide the civilized from the uncivilized, the blacks from the whites, and the rich from the poor. However, these hierarchies of race and class are reproducing vast amounts of inequalities. These divisions among people are not only the result of millions of individual actions but also the social structures involved. These choices reflect a specific ideology and are a response to the conditions created by the state and capital. Even though apartheid ended in the late 1980s, the apartheid legacy lives on and is ingrained into people’s minds as well as social and institutional practices.(Giannini pg.107) In South Africa much of the continued apartheid style segregation is fueled by a fear of crime. It is vital scholars pay attention to the larger sociospatial processes, which are producing these patterns. We need to recognize that space is essential in the reproduction of class and race formation. This work would not only explain the geographic and historical context but also help us appreciate the extent to which these places are shaped by various forms of racism and classism. According to Lemanski (2004) fear of crime is spatially, socially, and temporally distributed. Citizens try to decrease their fear in two ways: urban form and altered lifestyles. Building walls to keep “them” out, and limiting social interaction in certain places or even restricting going to certain areas is recreating divisions in the city which show resemblance to the apartheid. With the rate of crime rising, as well as fear, and the lack of competence in the police force/government, has led citizens to take measures into their hands by heightening security. Those who can afford to pay the price rely on high tech alarms and even armed private security guards. The need to hire private security guards is a response to the breakdown or defunding of the…