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Abandoning the Ark in Durban: development, displacement, resettlement and livelihood struggles.

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Forced removals, the theme of this thesis, through evictions, clean-up campaigns and development-induced displacement, results in the ‘hygienisation’ of public space and the ‘violent un-homing’ of vulnerable communities. The Ark Christian Ministries Church (ACMC) was established in 1982 in Durban’s notorious Point Precinct, offering shelter and rehabilitation opportunities for socially excluded and marginalised persons in the inner city. As the city forged ahead with the Point Waterfront Development mega-project and prepared to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Ark was shut-down in 2004. Notwithstanding a spirited resistance, one hundred families were forced to relocate to Welbedacht East, 30km from the Point Precinct. The aim of this study is to examine the implications of Development-Induced-Displacement and Resettlement (DIDR) on the livelihoods of those displaced from the Ark homeless shelter in the Point Precinct in Durban, and their survival strategies after relocating to the urban edge in Welbedacht. Influenced by theories of displacement, social justice and human rights, this thesis analysed the displacement, resistance, relocation and livelihood struggles of the Ark dwellers. A mixed-method approach was adopted in this study, drawing from qualitative and quantitative techniques and information from documents. The study found that those displaced remained socially excluded and marginalised in Welbedacht and expressed a deep sense of detachment and hopelessness. Their lives were characterised by unemployment, poverty and social pathologies. The former Ark residents failed to restore their livelihood opportunities and remain in a constant state of precarity. The study identified a new form of displacement. ‘New-Place Displacement’ refers to the inability to adapt to the new environment or integrate with surrounding communities. Instead, the ‘Arkians’ remained in a constant state of alienation in Welbedacht.


Doctoral Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.