The devastating fire in Marshalltown took place in a former pass office. That murderous irony highlights the price of ignoring or downplaying the legacies of apartheid systems that misshaped citizenship to force millions of people away from SA’s economic hubs. Thirty years later, both national and local governments seem unwilling to plan for continued mass inflows to economic centres, especially in Gauteng.  

In every country industrial centres emerge that draw people from the rest of the country. Apartheid laws proclaimed that Africans had citizenship rights in impoverished rural areas, largely deprived of land and water and far from the urban hubs where they could earn a living. Not surprisingly, after the transition to democracy many residents from the historic labour-sending regions moved permanently to the metros, especially in Gauteng.  ..

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