Cato Manor Township

Cato Manor was granted to George Christopher Cato, the first mayor of Durban, in 1865 and was sub-divided in the early 1900s and leased to Indian market gardeners. Black Africans started moving into the area in the late 1920s and renting land from the market gardeners so that, by 1932 when Cato Manor was incorporated into the Borough of Durban, over 500 shacks had been built on the land.

 

Cato Manor grew in leaps and bounds during World War II when there was a boom in Durban’s economy and a vastly increased demand for labour. By the end of the war, there were about 30000 shack dwellers in the area and, during the 1949 riots, Indian landlords and traders were replaced by black traders and shack lords. The municipal beerhall in Cato Manor was the focus of much ill feeling, particularly among the women, who felt that it was stealing their livelihoods.

 

Resentment concerning impending forced removals to KwaMashu and the beerhalls came to a head on 17 June 1959, when women, who had gathered outside the Cato Manor beerhall, forced their way inside, beating the men drinking there and wrecking the place. Four people died and seventy nine were injured during the riots, which spread throughout Durban, but things did calm down for a time after that.

 

The resistance to the forced removals continued and reached a climax on 23 January 1960, when nine policemen were killed by a mob in Cato Manor. The incident was so horrifying that it took the heart out of the resistance and the last shack in Cato Manor was demolished on 31 August 1964.