Slovo Park at a Glance

Slovo Park is situated in a politically and socially sensitive stretch of land south of Soweto. The community has been known by national government as Nancefield, by local council as Olifantsvlei and in the last five years as Slovo Park – named in honour of South Africa’s first minister of housing and former Umkhonto we Sizwe General, Joe Slovo.

The forced changing of identity reflects an on-going struggle faced by the leadership of Slovo Park to gain recognition as a legitimate settlement to access governmental support. This battle has been fought through constant shifts in governmental policy, power and promises for the community of Slovo Park. Their only tactics comprising of service delivery protest, painstaking formal requests for upgrade and currently a lawsuit against the City of Johannesburg.

Currently the community of Slovo Park with its development partners are strategizing this key social and political move.




The Slovo Story

History of Slovo (taken from Kate Tissington Report*)

The history of Slovo Park is a complex and fascinating one, and has been well-documented
by the community over the years. It is clear that the SPCDF has a palpable sense of the past
(particularly past promises made to them by the government), and that this informs their view
of the present and current developments at the settlement. There is a strong sense that „the
community never forgets‟, while it seems likely that there are many others – politicians,
government officials etc - who might prefer to forget. This sense of the past has directly
influenced the way that current development processes have been received by the

Formation of the settlement in the early 1990s

Slovo Park was established in the early 1990s by Johannes Mthembu and a number of other
people who moved to the site in search of land close to where they were working. During
the final years of the apartheid and the dawn of post-apartheid South Africa, declining
control over land and movement of people led to many people entering cities in search of
employment. Many of these people settled on land that they did not own. In Nancefield,
people were living at factory premises in the Nancefield Industrial Area or in backyard rooms
in the neighbouring, former „coloured‟ areas of Eldorado Park and Bushkoppies. Some of
these residents wanted their own place to live where they were not dependent on another
household or struggling to access services, so they identified a piece of vacant land and
occupied it. In 1993, people moved from the original site, which was dangerous and flood
prone, to the current Slovo Park site. Before they moved they told Transvaal Provincial
Administration (TPA)officials that in some cases there were more than three families per site
and that if each was allocated a site they would undertake not move back to the original
site. According to the SPCDF, permission was granted from TPA officials to occupy the land
and a number of community members, including Mthembu and Mapara, were assigned as surveyors for the area. They designed the layout and cut stands at the site. According to the
SPCDF, these community members copied the layout of Eldorado Park Extension 7 and
replicated it at Slovo Park. The site was initially referred to as Nancefield Township; however
after the death of Joe Slovo (the first Minster of Housing in post-apartheid South Africa) the
community renamed the settlement Slovo Park in May 1995, in Slovo‟s honour. 

...more coming...