Cato Manor timeline 1650 - 2007

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1650
Earliest known history - the Nqondo clan occupy the land now known as Cato Manor
1730
They are replaced by the Ntuli clan - it is unclear what became of the Ntuli clan
1843
George Cato, the first Durban mayor, is given this area as compensation for land that has been taken and used for military purposes
1914
George Cato subdivides and sells the farm to prominent residents who develop country estates. The landowners hire out or sell plots to Indian market gardeners. Isolated clusters of shacks occupied by Africans appear along the banks of the Umkhumbane River
1932
Cato Manor is incorporated into the Borough of Durban
1939
An influx of Africans into Durban transforms the cultural mix and life in Cato Manor as many settle there
1945
Indians and Africans come into frequent contact in both their working and social lives and a vibrant, hybrid culture evolves. However, all is not well. Friction mounts as African tenants level allegations of exorbitant rent-hikes and forced overcrowding against their Indian landlords. Certain white elements help foster this resentment in the name of 'divide-and-rule' or due to their jealousy of Indian advancement
1949
13 January, African-Indian hatred reaches boiling point when a racial incident in Grey Street sparks a violent anti-Indian war that spreads to Cato Manor. A two-day orgy of murder, looting and arson in the slum-land makes world headlines as 137 die and thousands are injured. Shops, homes and public buildings are destroyed and most Indian landowners lose their properties to African shack lords and traders. Following the riots, Indian landlords return to collect rents or let entire plots to Africans who then erect more shacks and sub-let them. By now there are 6 000 shacks in the area and the population is between 45 000 and 50 000
1950
The Group Areas Act, the Population Registration Act, the Immorality Act and the Suppression of Communism Act are passed
1952
The Durban City Council acquires land from Indian landowners to build the Emergency Camp to accommodate the homeless, later to become known as 'Umkhumbane' after the river. The camp is overpopulated and the municipality encounters many problems controlling the homemade distilled liquor called 'shimeyane', which is the only source of income for unemployed African women
Mid 1950's
Cato Manor becomes a centre of political militancy. Chief Luthuli visits Cato Manor and mobilizes support for the ANC by linking Cato Manor's problems with the struggle against apartheid and the area becomes a seat of the ANC underground. The ANC Women's League organizes protests against the proposed pass laws for women.
Government instructs the municipality to develop a new housing scheme at KwaMashu and set up a temporary transit camp in Cato Manor
1959
Attempts to forcibly move people to the racially exclusive African and Indian townships of KwaMashu, Umlazi and Chatsworth miles away meet with stiff resistance and increasing pass and liquor raids raise tensions. In reaction, the beerhall riots take place at these symbols of the apartheid government
1960
Nine policemen are killed by a mob in the Emergency Camp, tipping the scales against Cato Manor. The rapid clearance of the area begins
1964
Monday 31 August - Umkhumbane ceases to exist as the last shack is bulldozed
1968
Cato Manor is largely vacant, with only a few solitary homes, shops, the beerhall and several Hindu temples still standing
1979
The few remaining residents form the Cato Manor Residents' Association, to resist further removals and racially based housing developments. People begin making attempts to regain their properties
Mid 1980's
Cato Manor is once again a centre of political upheaval and the struggle for freedom in South Africa, a feature of the final years of apartheid. Some public institutions are destroyed in protest, people flee and many die leaving an area and community in dire need of rehabilitation.
1990's
Waves of informal settlers start setting up homes in Cato Manor as the lure of employment attracts them to the city
1992
The people of Durban unite to create the Cato Manor Development Forum, which a year later gives rise to the Cato Manor Development Association (CMDA) to redevelop the area
1994
Thousands of newly enfranchised voters line the streets of Cato Manor as South Africa's first democratic elections take place
1995
The Cato Manor urban renewal project is designated a Presidential Lead Project of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) and receives R130 million in funding
Late 1990's
Cato Manor is transformed by large-scale development
2001
Siyaya FM, Cato Manor's radio station, takes to the air
2002
The world-class iNkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital is opened
2002
The Cato Manor Visitor Centre at Intuthuko Junction opens featuring a museum, internet cafe, curio shop, conference centre and a tourist info booking office
2003
Nelson Mandela inaugurates the first Umkhumbane Urban Reality Tourism Trail
2004
Private sector investment reaches the target of R200 million
2005
The first Annual five day Cato Manor Peace Festival takes place, opened by Nobel Peace Laureate Kofi Annan
2007
The inaugural Umkhumbane Global Jazz Week is staged with top visiting international stars

Last updated : 30-Nov-2015

This article was produced for South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011