One of Durban’s largest inner-city suburbs, Chatsworth is immediately south of the city centre and is home to over 450 000 people. It spans 64 different suburbs with a mix of old and contemporary architecture and a bustling economy that includes everything from spaza shops to big-name retailers.
The Group Areas Act, which was passed in the late 1960s and formed Chatsworth, particularly for the Indian community at the time that “Europeans” were protesting Indian “penetration,” left a legacy of apartheid and the old township known as Chassis. In addition to the 7,000 Indians who were evicted from the Magazine Barracks in central Durban, thousands of other Indians were also uprooted from places like Sea Cow Lake, Riverside, Umhlanga, Berea, Bellair, and Cato Manor, all of which later transformed into “white” neighbourhoods.
Due to its past, Chatsworth is still primarily Indian now, despite having a balanced population of African, Indian, white, and coloured people. The Temple of Understanding, also known as Sri Sri Radhanath Temple, is unquestionably South Africa’s most stunning Hare Krishna temple. It boasts a rich flavour of blended Indian cultures.
Along with a sizable manufacturing sector, one of the busiest shopping malls in the nation, and over 1.2 million people every month that shop here in the heart of Chatsworth, Chatsworth’s business community spans the spectrum from tiny corner spazas to huge corporate corporations.
History Of Chatsworth, Durban
The territory that makes up Chatsworth was formerly a farm by the same name that was a part of Witteklip. It was purchased in 1848 by a man named Samuel Bennington, who gave it that name in honour of Chatsworth, a town close to Chesterfield in Derbyshire, England. Indians from all around Durban were relocated to Chatsworth in the 1950s as a result of the Group Areas legislation. The property had been taken from 600 Indian farmers, and through the 1960s and early 1970s, it came to be known as an Indian group area.
The Trading and Occupation of Land (Transvaal and Natal) Restriction Act, often known as the Pegging Act of 1943, was created as a result of Durban Whites’ historical campaign against Indian “penetration.” Although Indians were not entirely forbidden from owning land in Natal, as was the situation in the Transvaal, limitations were growing. The following three years saw the implementation of this Act, which brought property deals between Whites and Indians under government oversight.
The Asiatic Land Tenure Act of 1946 was passed after the three-year pegging period had passed. In the Transvaal and Natal, this meant that no “Asiatic” (another term for Indian people) may buy or take possession of immovable property from a “European” (a term for White people) without a permit from the Minister of the Interior. Slums emerged in Natal as a result of an expansion in working-class communities that were primarily African and Indian.
To make “slum removal” in the city easier, the Slums Act was enacted in 1934. It was intended to assure industrial development, secure the elimination of any threat to public health, and reinforce the government’s long-held belief in residential segregation. The discussion of slums and their clearance grew during the 1930s.
Measures to stop the aforementioned Indian “penetration” were a significant focus of cross-racial Indian community agitation in the 1940s. In order to improve the living circumstances in some regions, the Pegging Acts of 1942–1943 and the Ghetto Act of 1946 were established, giving the government the authority to demolish and dismantle shacks. This opened the door for the Group Districts Act of June 1950, which designated some areas as being exclusive to Whites. The non-White communities who lived in these places had to be relocated to an area reserved for Indians, Coloreds, and Africans as a result. From places like Mayville, Cato Manor, Clairwood and Magazine Barracks, and the Bluff, Indians were forcibly evicted.
Newspaper advertisements for the posh Indian neighbourhood “Umhlatuzana” began to appear around 1950. The Group Areas Act was then used to develop Red Hill (north of Durban) and Silverglen (south of Durban) for Indians who could afford to construct their own homes. The more affluent Indians with the means to pay for it had access to Reservoir Hills. La Mercy, to the north of Durban, was designated as an Indian group area. Purpose-built homes took the place of the impoverished colonies in Merebank (formerly known as Marine Settlement), and by the late 1950s, a rebuilt Merebank was offering affordable homes with a ten-year payment plan.
Planned in 1960, Chatsworth has eleven neighbourhood units with 7,00 sub-economic and 14,00 economic homes when it was first launched in 1964. It was purposefully constructed to serve as a barrier between White residential neighbourhoods and the substantial African township of Umlazi.
The Chatsworth Centre, located in the centre of Chatsworth, is renowned for its incredibly rich Indian Eastern Experience. It has 150 stores in all, ranging from jewellery to furniture, authentic food shops, banking malls, exquisite Eastern wear, trendy Western wear, and an entire cultural shopping experience.
The Umlaas River and the Umhlatuzana River both border the Center, which is located on a mountainous landscape around 15 kilometres from the city centre of Durban. The Higginson Highway provides access to the centre, and both the main bus lines and the train station are close by and accessible on foot. A minibus service is also provided to customers from the location of the Center.