oa De Jure - and the (im)possibility of spatial justice

Volume 47, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2225-7160



In October 2012 the Constitutional Court ordered the Tshwane Metropolitan Council ("the City") to meaningfully engage with the residents of Schubart Park regarding their interim relocation and the restoration of the housing complex. This interfered with the City's plans to demolish the apartment blocks and the plan now includes the rejuvenation of the Schubart Park housing complex in phase 1 of the West Capital Project, at an estimated cost of R1.25 billion. In this article I critically consider the definition of, and references to, spatial justice in the plan. The central question is whether these references present the possibility of spatial justice as envisaged by Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos. Spatial justice, understood from a radical geographical perspective, acknowledges that space produces and is produced by unequal social relationships and insists on inhabitance as opposed to habitat. Against the backdrop of spatial justice and with reference to the aftermath of the case I explore the relationship between law, space and justice. I take up in turn the history, present and future of the Schubart Park apartment complex and the plan. Thereafter, I look at what the concept of spatial justice could and should entail by referring to the work of Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Doreen Massey and Henri Lefebvre and lastly, I compare the plan with and the United Nation's UN-HABITAT policy, in order to illustrate a discord between the aims of gentrification and spatial justice.

Die beleidsdokument bevat verskeie verwysings na ruimtelike geregtigheid. Deur te steun op die werk van Henri Lefebvre en Doreen Massey verskaf die artikel 'n inhoud aan die konsep van ruimtelike geregtigheid en reageer daardeur op Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos se kritiek dat ruimtelike geregtigheid onvoldoende teoretiese grondslag het en nie bloot kan dui op geregtigheid binne ruimtes nie. Teen die agtergrond van hierdie teorieë, tesame met die uitkoms en nadraai van die beslissing, is die sentrale argument dat beide die moontlikheid en onmoontlikheid van ruimtelike geregtigheid inhou. Die UN-HABITAT verslag van die verenigde nasies en dien as voorbeelde van die spanning tussen stedelike opknappingoogmerke en geregtigheid.

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