Wits City Institute Seminar

Graduate Fellows Seminar

Wits City Institute Fellows Bianca van Heerden, Morgen Zivhave, Brittany Birberick and Dumisa Dlamini presented research at a seminar convened by Wits City Institute Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow Jonathan Cane. The presentations provoked compelling and relevant questions about Gauteng.

20 Sept 2017 / Windybrow Arts Centre, Hillbrow, Johannesburg

Morgen Zivhave

Planning and the Urban Agriculture Value Chain: Can innovation networks bridge Johannesburg’s gaps between agriculture and urban planning? Download paper



Professor Daniel Irurah
School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand

Brittany Birberick

Time in the Factory: Notes from the Floor Download paper

Respondent: Alexandra Appelbaum, Researcher in Spatial Analysis and City Planning, School of Architecture and Planning, University of the Witwatersrand


Dumisa Dlamini

Urban Development and Management History of the Inner City of Pretoria/Tshwane 1885-2015 Download paper

Respondent: Siân Butcher, Lecturer in Human Geography, School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies, University of the Witwatersrand


Bianca van Heerden

Home after Eviction: A Photographic Essay of Munsieville

Respondent: Natasha Christopher, Lecturer, Wits School of Arts, University of the Witwatersrand

Morgen Zivhave


Recent trends in urban agriculture (UA) locally and globally show a parallel with rapid urbanisation, unemployment, and poverty. On one hand, practices in the UA value chain contribute to sustainability through city greening, food security, and livelihoods; on the other UA escalates environmental degradation and health hazards. Innovation networks improve products and processes in the UA value chain and address inherent weaknesses in conventional planning. Studies in Portland and Havana show that innovation networks shape UA as a desirable urban fabric. Using case study findings, this ethnographic investigation explores the impact of innovation networks in the UA value chain to the corresponding response by planning. The results show that urban farming practices that innovate through networks easily improve farming methods, marketing, and negotiate land access agreements with cities and schools better than non-innovating ones. However, more networks also increases the amount of communication and meetings. Moreover, farming practices require a certain level of skills to manage the new innovation. At city level, new planning innovations such as Integrated Development Planning introduced in South Africa in 1994, has recognised UA in Johannesburg since 2006. The city in collaboration with universities and government departments developed the (draft) Food Resilience Policy, established two big farms in 2013, and provides training, seed packs and irrigation infrastructure. The city through the Department of Innovation promotes and rewards innovation within its departments and throughout Johannesburg. Despite these successes, city departments still work in silos. The Department of Social Development promotes food security and allocates land in the city core; on the other hand, the Department of Planning and Development allocates land for UA in peri-urban regions through the current Spatial Development Framework 2040.

Brittany Birberick


Crossing Marshall Street, the built environment of the road changes. The retail shops from the block before disappear; there are no doors to easily walk through, no windows offering a view into the structure. The walls are high; there are gates, barbed wire, and spikes. The only openings lead into scrap yards; ‘cash for scrap’ signs welcome the passersby. Cars pour out of these yards. Men, Nigerian migrants, stand chatting around the entrance; they are both working on cars and socialising. Older white men who own and run the surrounding factories complain that these cars violate city codes. They say that the Nigerian migrants have paid the police off. No longer populated by people walking from shop to shop, the only pedestrian presence on the block is characterised by standing, waiting, milling about. Occasionally, a young man selling fruit pushes his cart full of papayas by. The factory is located near the end of the block and slightly more welcoming than those that surround it. An open garage door reveals a set of metal stairs that lead to the second floor of the building, the factory floor. To the right are dozens of metal bins full of metal washers, all varying in size and shape. Clear plastic bags, oily from their contents, are full of more washers, and these bags litter the spaces between the metal bins. This is the delivery area. Finished orders are sorted and wait to be delivered or picked up here. The washers made of steel and copper glitter in the light, resembling mounds of coins. To the left is a narrow hallway that leads to three small offices: one for the woman, Bongi, who works as the HR director, another for the woman, Gertrude, who manages accounting, and the third that is shared by the owner and two other men who focus on sales. A bathroom, for the women who work in the factory (just Bongi and Gertrude), and a small kitchen are also attached to this lower level structure.

Dumisa Dlamini


What are the urban development and management strategies/initiatives that have been adopted by the City of Pretoria/Tshwane, and what has been their impact in the inner city from 1855 to 2015? The objective of the study is to: a. historically trace policies, programmes, and projects that have been used to develop and manage the inner city of Pretoria/Tshwane from 1855 to 2015; b. explore and discuss the strategic institutional structures that have been put in place to address urban development and management; c. critically analyse and discuss the social, economic, spatial and institutional impact of the urban development policies, programmes and projects; d. critically analyse and discuss the contribution of city stakeholders in the development of the city and its future; and e. assess the socio-economic impact of urban development to the informal economy of the city (street vendors, social housing, taxi associations, urban shelters, expanded public works programes and so on). The paper presents a research methodology and data collection for the period 1855-1910. The aim is to use primary sources as much as possible to trace urban development and management of the City of Tshwane. In this instance the researcher is tracing policies, programmes, and projects that have been used by the city for its development and management strategy. The period 1855-1910 creates the foundations for understanding the urban development and management history of the city. Are documentary sources the best research methodology for this period? If so, which primary sources are the most relevant and how should the researcher go about employing such research tools?