oa Constitutional Court Review - Dismantling apartheid geography : transformation and the limits of law

Volume 9 Number 1
  • ISSN : 2073-6215
  • E-ISSN: 2521-5183



This article reflects on aspects of the Constitutional Court’s contribution to shaping spatial politics in post-apartheid South Africa. In a milieu characterised by extreme inequality and racial and class-based segregation, it interrogates the Court’s engagement with the odious legacy of apartheid geography which continues to lock South Africa’s cities and rural areas into its racist logic. The article begins by exploring the notion of apartheid geography as a product of racial, class-based and spatial discrimination buttressed by discriminatory laws. The article then outlines the relationship between law and space by drawing from critical legal geographic theory to cast South Africa’s space as the product of racial, class-based and spatial discrimination. As a key site in the legal production of space, this article analyses how the Court in Mazibuko v City of Johannesburg and Daniels v Scribante understands space in an effort to map its own role in reconfiguring post-apartheid spatial relations. This article introduces critical legal geographic methodology as a way of understanding the Court’s spatial jurisprudence in the post-apartheid era. Mapping the theoretical insights of this interdisciplinary approach to the study of law and geography reveals shortcomings in legal theory. This article argues that adopting critical legal geographic methodology will lead to increased recognition of the operation of spatial, racial and class-based inequities in legal adjudication. This may in turn lead to spatially contextualised judicial decisionmaking that aims to address apartheid geography.

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