South Africa: The Tectonic Forces That Triggered Cape Town's Eruption of Violence


There were no mitigating circumstances for the killing of pregnant mother Sadieka Newman in Manenberg or the brutal murder of young horse rider Meghan Cremer in Philippi. Nor for the nearly 2,000 people killed in Cape Town's gang warfare so far in 2019. Last weekend 47 people died of knife and gunshot wounds. But the situation does have a context. There's no innocent landscape here.

Cape Town's current violence is like a flare at the caldera of a volcano. The problem begins much deeper underground and the rumblings have been going on for a long time. To do anything meaningful towards the transformation of stricken communities, we need to first understand four tectonic forces that have built towards the recent ignition.

The growth of African cities

Africa was one of the last continents to urbanise but is now experiencing it at an unprecedented pace. And no cities are growing faster than those in sub-Saharan Africa. The continent's population of roughly 1.1 billion is expected to double by 2050. More than 80% of that growth will occur in cities, especially informal settlements.

According to a study for the World Economic Forum, Africa's turbocharged urbanisation is driven by several factors: natural expansion...

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