Durban’s massive Cornubia development under way


A R25 billion mixed use development will create homes, retail opportunities and create an industrial park between Durban and King Shaka International Airport.

The Cornubia mall, as envisaged by developers. (Image: Cornubia)

Brand South Africa reporter

President Jacob Zuma officially launched the government’s massive Cornubia development on Sunday. The R25-billion mixed-use development of housing, commercial and industrial sites is set to change the skyline between Durban and King Shaka International Airport.

“I am hopeful that with integrated human settlement projects like Cornubia, we will be able to effectively eradicate a significant number of the informal settlements across various areas in eThekwini and across South Africa,” Zuma said, noting that the project would cost the government R25-billion over 20 years.

Developers have integrated a public transport system that serves the entire development. (Image: Cornubia)

Over 24 000 new homes

Cornubia is a mixed-use, mixed-income, 1 200-hectare development, with 80 hectares earmarked for industrial development and the rest for commercial, housing and other social and public facilities, including schools, creches, clinics, multi-purpose halls, police stations and post offices.

It is strategically located between Durban’s wealthier Mt Edgecombe and Umhlanga areas and disadvantaged areas north of the city such as Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu, Phoenix, Ottawa and Waterloo.

Situated some 15 kilometres south of King Shaka International, Cornubia will see over 24 000 new mixed-income homes being built over the next 10 years, 15 000 for subsidised housing and the balance for a wide range of affordability levels.

What started as a joint venture between the eThekwini Metro Municipality and agriculture and agri-processing company Tongaat Hulett has since been adopted by the Cabinet as a national priority project, bringing in all spheres of government as official partners.

Phase 1A of the development was completed in September last year at a cost of nearly R100-million, and the first 482 beneficiaries moved into their new homes in November. Construction of phase 1B is under way and promises another 2 100 homes at a cost of around R560-million.

The first homes built at Cornubia will go to residents of nearby informal settlements. (Image: Cornubia)

The units consist of two bedrooms, a lounge, a kitchen and ablution facilities – a far cry from the usual one-bedroom RDP starter homes.

The development is expected to create 48 000 new sustainable job opportunities over a period of 15 years, and a further 15 000 during the construction phase.

Zuma said the residents would also be linked to the city’s new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, with planned BRT routes linking Cornubia to areas including Umhlanga, Phoenix, the Dube Trade Port and the King Shaka International Airport nearby.

‘We now have so much space’

The first phase of Cornubia residents are being drawn from surrounding informal settlements, including Blackburn, Stonebridge and Ridgeview, as well as transit or waiting camps in Clermont.

One of the beneficiaries, who moved into her home in November, is 66-year-old Lucy Xaba. After spending five years in Lindela, a waiting camp in Waybank, Clermont, Xaba finally has her own roof over her head.

The home is a godsend to the pensioner, whose husband, a construction worker and the family’s breadwinner, died a few years ago. Originally from KwaSwayimane, in Pietermaritzburg, she had to raise her children alone, and made ends meet by selling potatoes.

“Life has indeed been tough for me, but I am happy today because my suffering has come to an end. I never expected that I would ever live in a place like this,” Xaba said.

Living in Cornubia was like returning to the promised land, said 51-year-old Inderlal Mothilal, who lives with his wife Mominbibi, 49, and their two children. The couple now earn a living by running a local tuckshop where residents can buy bread, milk and other essentials.

Just a few doors down is the Muthia family. After 46 years of marriage, James and Sally Muthia finally have a home of their own. Originally from Blackburn Village – an old slum near Phoenix – the couple’s home is known by residents as having the best garden in the area. “My new home is my pride and joy, that is why I take pride in my garden,” said James.

Added Sally: “My husband was always sickly, but now since we have moved to Cornubia his blood pressure is down and he has been feeling much better.”

Living in a mixed community is quite nice, says 26-year-old mother of three Zanele Cele. Zanele lives in Cornubia with her father Zozwane Ngcobo and mother Eunice Cele, who are both unemployed.

The family moved to Cornubia after living in a one-room shack in Clermont. “We now have so much of space, and a bathroom – it is really a different life that we are used to, and we love it,” Cele said.

“Living with people of mixed races is very nice. We learn a lot about different cultures, and Cornubia is how South Africa should be, one big happy mixed family.”

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