WESTERN ETHEKWINI: HILLCREST, MOLWENI AND CRESTHOLME
The Hillcrest node in the western eThekwini has also been a significant area of growth, attracting residential and retail developments since the 1990s. We focus on residential areas in proximity to the burgeoning Hillcrest node, namely Molweni and Crestholme. These areas are peripheral to Durban’s planning networks and have not been considered in the municipality’s planned BRT network, although there has been some infrastructural investment in roads and bridges. There is a complex mix in terms of both housing and land ownership. Molweni and Crestholme are mixed income areas, hosting both middle-class gated estates and low-income RDP housing. Land ownership in the area is a mix of tribal and private. The complex governance arrangements between tribal authorities and the metro municipality are fertile grounds for study.
Our study in 2017 found that the impact of the recently constructed Crestholme Mall has been significant on residents, particularly those living in Molweni. Previously they spent much time and money travelling to shops in Pinetown and Hillcrest, and this new mall in relatively close location improved access to services, food and the potential for employment. Residents in Molweni experienced significant positive gains from recent state investment in micro-infrastructure in the area, particularly in road surfacing, electricity, toilets, water, bus shelters, and schools. Local institutions such as the Greater Molweni Resource Centre were noted as playing a critical role. Residents from parts of the area governed by the traditional authorities felt ‘left out’ of some of these improvements, and experienced significant challenges in terms of access to decent housing and services. The area had a number of orphaned households who were particularly marginalised and impoverished. Crime in the area was rising, but it still felt relatively safe in comparison to other parts of the city. Improved transport and road surfacing significantly improved residents’ abilities to access the wider city for work and services.
A summary of key findings for this area can be found in the Molweni eThekwini pamphlet.