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The goal of Cityscape is to bring high-quality original research on housing and community development issues to scholars, government officials, and practitioners. Cityscape is open to all relevant disciplines, including architecture, consumer research, demography, economics, engineering, ethnography, finance, geography, law, planning, political science, public policy, regional science, sociology, statistics, and urban studies.

Cityscape is published three times a year by the Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

  • Crime and Urban Form
  • Volume 13 Number 3
  • Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
  • Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga

A South African Commentary on the Articles in the Cityscape Symposium on Crime and Urban Form

Peter M.U. Schmitz , Tinus Kruger , Antony K. Cooper, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

As with the articles in this issue, this introduction reflects the views of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


The relationship between crime and the physical environment, including urban form, is of particular relevance within the South African context. Two features of crime in this country— crime levels are exceptionally high and crime affects different people in different parts of the city differently—have important implications for interventions in the built environment.

Until 1994, when the first democratic elections were held, the country’s apartheid policies directly influenced planning policies and practices that, to a large degree, shaped cities and towns in South Africa. Cities were partitioned into various zones, based on race, with vacant land and other types of buffer zones dividing communities. Informal settlements have since developed on much of the vacant land surrounding townships (Kruger and Landman, 2008). Most poor people stay relatively far from their places of employment, requiring them to spend a considerable amount of time and money on traveling and making them vulnerable during these journeys. The spatial dislocation of the poor also has resulted in the exclusion of many city residents from the amenities and economic opportunities that the city offers.

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