Cape Area Housing Action Committee campaigns against rent increases, South Africa, 1982


To stop the government from raising rent.

Time period

January, 1982 to April, 1982


South Africa

Location City/State/Province

Greater Cape Town Area
Jump to case narrative

Methods in 3rd segment

Segment Length

Approximately 2 weeks

Notes on Methods

It is unclear what methods were used between February and April (when the campaign was officially ended)


Cape Area Housing Action Committee


43 community organizations

External allies

Not known

Involvement of social elites

Not known


The City Government, The Community Development Committee

Nonviolent responses of opponent

None known

Campaigner violence

None known

Repressive Violence

Not known


Economic Justice



Group characterization

Black South Africans
Indian South Africans

Groups in 1st Segment

Residents of the Greater Cape Area

Segment Length

Approximately 2 weeks

Success in achieving specific demands/goals

0 out of 6 points


1 out of 1 points


3 out of 3 points

Total points

4 out of 10 points

Database Narrative

In May 1980 the Town City and Divisional Council of the Greater Cape Flats and neighboring areas informed residents, largely blacks and Indians, that their rents would increase in June. Government-supported apartheid had previously forced people of color to move from Cape Town to suburbs in the Cape Flats. The announced rent increase in the Cape Flats was unaffordable to the residents of the area, who were already burdened by unemployment, low wages, and an economic recession. The increased costs would force people of color in Cape Flats even farther from their previous homes.

Residents quickly called a meeting in response to the notice and formed the Umbrella Rentals Committee (URC). To avoid a political conflict, the government postponed rent increases and banned further meetings of the URC starting in June. Members of the URC met again in September and changed their name to the Cape Areas Housing Action Committee (CAHAC).

In December 1981, the government announced that rent would be raised beginning in the New Year. CAHAC had prepared for this by organizing community groups on the issue and also circulating a petition since August 1981. In January 1982 CAHAC held a community meeting at Westridge Civic Center attended by 3,000 people from 43 organizations including religious institutions, students, trade unions, civic organizations, and rent and ratepayers associations. CAHAC presented the petition with 40,000 signatures to the Minister of Community Development, Ben Kotze. The petition was dismissed on the grounds that a majority of the signatures were from children.

CAHAC demanded a meeting with Kotze. Saying he was too busy, Kotze directed them to their local Management Committees.  CAHAC responded to the denial with a call for a stay-at-home strike on 4 February 1982 to pressure Kotze to meet with them. Campaigners constantly called him on the telephone to disrupt his work. CAHAC also organized marches on h h  ousing offices all over the Cape Peninsula with a total of 595 participants in the protests.  These actions forced Kotze to meet with CAHAC at the end of February.

After CAHAC met with representatives of the government on the issue of rent, the government agreed to form a committee to investigate the rent formula.  If the committee was ever formed, it did not do anything. The CAHAC leadership officially ended the rent campaign in April deciding that the existing government would not respond to them.


In 1979 and 1980 there was a successful bus boycott against bus fare hikes, a red meat consumer boycott in support of striking workers, and boycott of schools by students of color backed by parents and community in Greater Cape Town. (1)

CAHAC waged later campaigns against Apartheid. (2)


“Cape Areas Housing Action Committee (CAHAC).” South Africa History Online. Accessed: 15 March 2013.

Kessel, Ineke van. “‘Beyond Our Wildest Dreams:’ The United Democratic Front and the Transformation of South Africa.” The University Press of Virginia. 2000. Accessed 11 April 2013 through Google Books

Maseko, Sipho S. “Civic Movement and Non-Violent Action: The Case of the Cape Areas Housing Action Committee." African Affairs, Vol. 96, No. 384 (Jul., 1997), pp. 353-369. Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of The Royal African Society. Accessed:15 March 2013.

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy

Jonathan White, 14/03/2013