As you drive from East London airport into the city, after the many auto and component factories, you pass the Latimer's Landing sign near the harbour. If you take a left turn after a few hundred metres, into an indistinct covered pathway used mainly by minibus taxi drivers, you emerge in a new world on the other side. Under a newly built shopping mall, in the hustle and bustle typical of many Eastern Cape towns, you compete with taxi drivers, pedestrians and rickety, short-trip cabs.

If you drive further, you might see behind the rusty skeleton of the industrial inner belly of Buffalo City the zinc-and-brick settlements of Duncan Village on the other side of the river. Founded in 1941, the township has always been home to migrants from outlying areas. However, the transfer of people from this area to Mdantsane in waves in the 1960s and 1970s, and Reeston in the 1990s, by local officials has been inadequate in alleviating the increasing number of households erecting inform...

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