Effects of the forced removals and the post-apartheid period.

For those families that were evicted from lower Claremont to the Cape Flats, the hostile environment that welcomed them contrasted sharply with the camaraderie and sense of community that they had felt living below the railway line. Far from places of work, those living on the flats had to pay increased transport costs to get themselves to work as well as for their children if they continued to attend school in Claremont. Attendance numbers at Livingstone High and Rosmead Primary, as well as the Church-run schools dropped sharply after the removals. In addition, many families were crippled by unnecessary new expenses associated with moving such as the cost of moving their household goods and installing new telephones for example. Rents were also much higher in the housing estates that were created for them, which became breeding grounds for crime as a result of the high unemployment & poverty that existed there. The breakdown of the social networks and friendships that had been built up over many, many years was keenly felt and many contributed the rise of violent gangsterism in these new residential areas to this feeling of dislocation on the part of the younger generation. The emotional and psychological costs of the removals have indeed been severe, but despite the adversity faced, many of those affected have been able to rebuild their lives and start anew.

With the dismantling of apartheid and the birth of a democratic South Africa in 1994, some of these former residents were able to claim compensation for what had occurred. In 1994 the Restitution of Land Rights Act was passed to entitle those who had been disposed of property through racist laws or practices after 19 June 1913 to receive their original land, alternative state land or financial compensation. Accordingly, in September 1999, the first land and property claims in Harfield Village were settled. (44) For those continuing to live on the Cape Flats, links are still maintained with area, through visits with friends and family who managed to stay or else who have returned since the Group Areas Act was repealed in 1991. Some former residents still attend services at the churches and mosque, and schools such as Rosmead Primary and Livingstone High School continue to provide education for the descendants of old Claremont residents.

In 2002, the special heritage value of Harfield Village was recognised by the City of Cape Town which designated it as a “special area” in terms of section 14 of its’ Zoning Scheme Regulations, which requires design guidelines to be met. Although this does not provide for full conservation status, the designation as a “special area” was intended to preserve Harfield’s human-scale interactions between street and front door, which was being threatened by the growing imposition of high walls and monolithic garages. The Harfield Village of today is fortunately once again an area where residents from different racial, social and religious backgrounds live and work together and it is hoped that efforts to protect it’s historic physical environment, together with a recognition of the events of the past, however painful, and the holding of events such as the Harfield Village Carnival, will combine to sustain the unique character of the village and build further community spirit amongst it’s residents.

The railway crossing at Kenilworth Station, now Kenilworth Road
The railway crossing at Kenilworth Station, now Kenilworth Road c. early 20th Century (J 9763 Cape Archives)