South Africa Sees Race Swap in Suburb Population

New census data shows that more Black South Africans are calling the suburbs home as white South Africans settle into townships once designated for Blacks only.

Posted: 05/01/2013 10:43 AM EDT
South Africa Sees Race Swap in Suburb Population

Almost 20 years after South Africa’s state sanctioned system of segregation called apartheid, census data from the country shows that Blacks are finally moving on up.

Based on a sample from Durban, South Africa’s cushy, formerly all-white suburbs of Kloof and Durban North, 2011 census data showed that the number of Black residents now surpasses that of white, Indian and colored South Africans.

"Since the start of our democracy until 2001, when the previous census was held, there was not much change in terms of migration patterns and suburb population dynamics,” Dr. Arulsivanathan Naidoo, the head of Stakeholder Relations at Stats SA, told the The Mercury. “However, in the 10 years from 2001 until 2011, the last census, there has been a lot of change, and this recent census is the first real accurate count between those two points."

Naidoo said the changes seen in Durban are reflective of a broader pattern of migration happening all over the country.

In Kloof, Black South Africans make up 54 percent of residents, while whites account for just 34 percent. In Durban North, Black South Africans saw a more modest increase, making up 37 percent of the population, compared to a white population of  32 percent. The remaining residents are composed of Indians and mixed race (referred to as colored) South Africans.  

Meanwhile, South Africa’s townships, impoverished settlements that were historically used to segregate and isolate Black South Africans, are seeing a rise (albeit small) in white residents.

With a population of over 400,000, uMlazi township has 285 white residents. In KwaMashu township outside of Durban, 145 white residents were recorded.  

Naidoo maintains that overall, the data shows that life is getting better for South Africans as a whole.

“The quality of life generally has improved throughout the country, with more people now having access to basic services,” he said. However, there were still small pockets of people who had not seen an improvement in their living standards.


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