Region E is home to many of Johannesburg's older established suburbs that lie along Louis Botha Avenue, the old main road between Johannesburg and Pretoria. But it includes many of the city's newer suburbs that sprung up around developments in and near central Sandton.
It is also home to Alexandra, an old township with a significant place in South Africa's history. Its long-standing poverty was exacerbated by the violence of the political struggle that led to a democratic South Africa, and by a continuing influx of informal settlers.
Previously a symbol of apartheid oppression, Alex, as it is better known, now often stands as a beacon of hope. The Alexandra Renewal Project is designed to uplift the area and undo the legacy of racial inequality.
Also in the region are the old suburbs of Houghton Estate, Oaklands and Norwood, which are dotted with impressive old mansions, many built by those who made their fortunes on the gold mines but who wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the inner city.
To its northeast border, beyond the N3 Eastern Bypass, are the suburbs of Modderfontein, Linbro Park and Founders Hill.
The vast region is home to a mix of highly paid professionals, middle income workers and lower paid labourers. There is also a high level of unemployment, especially around Alex.
Liziwe Ntshinga-Makoro, the director of Region E, believes prioritising Alexandra and other areas in the northern suburbs that are showing early signs of decay should form the core of the region's mandates.
Where we are
The region forms one of Johannesburg's eastern borders, situated towards the northeastern end of the metro.
To its north is Region A (Midrand), with Region B (comprising of Northcliff, Craighall Park and Randburg, among others) to the west and Region F (the inner city and Johannesburg South) to its south. To the east are the neighbouring towns of Kempton Park and Germiston, which are part of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality. As such, the region is situated within a reasonable distance of OR Tambo International Airport.
Land use in the region varies from residential in the northwest, the west and the south, to industrial and manufacturing areas in the northeast. Alexandra, a small but densely populated area, is undergoing a radical face-lift, with efforts to de-densify it, introduce proper street signage and lighting and prevent encroachment along the banks of the Jukskei River.
New developments along Alex's East Bank have gone some way towards alleviating housing pressure. Neighbouring Alex is Sandton central - reputed to be the richest spot in Africa - complete with world-class shopping; entertainment and hospitality facilities; the JSE Limited, the South African stock exchange; office blocks housing local and multinational institutions; and luxury apartments. Sandton also has the second highest amount of office space in the country, behind the Johannesburg inner city, and has clearly established itself as the leading financial district in South Africa.
There are a variety of established residential areas in the region, from the large expensive homes of Houghton Estate and Bryanston in the north, to the middle-income areas of Sandringham and Lyndhurst in the east and Linksfield in the centre. To the south, Orange Grove and Bezuidenhout Valley are in transition, thanks to their proximity to the inner city.
The City has been making a concerted effort to gentrify the area, by improving the infrastructure and trying to attract middle-income homeowners. Industrial areas include Wynberg, Marlboro and Linbro Park.
Nearby Modderfontein is used by AECI for the manufacture of explosives, and light manufacturing takes place in Wynberg. The vast Frankenwald site, owned by the University of the Witwatersrand, is earmarked for mixed-use development.
Major roads in the region include the M1 motorway, sections of the N1 Western Bypass and the N3 Eastern Bypass, Louis Botha Avenue, Corlett Drive, Oxford Road and Rivonia Road.
The region's two main geographic features are the Jukskei River, which drains to the north, with its tributary Sandringhamspruit, and a portion of Linksfield Ridge to the south. The latter is regarded as ecologically sensitive, as are the Harvey Nature Reserve, the Mervyn King Trail and the Jukskei and its tributaries. Aside from its rich diversity of trees, bushes, flowers and bird life, Linksfield Ridge is also of historical importance. In addition, a section of Modderfontein has been designated as a conservation area, but it has yet to be fully developed and remains under-utilised.
The Jukskei River has been adversely affected by very large informal settlements in Alex. People living below the flood line have frequently suffered during heavy rains when the river floods its banks. Johannesburg is involved in several initiatives to rehabilitate the river and its banks; a prime example is the development of Jukskei Park on the eastern bank of the river in Alexandra. City Parks has also been conducting education programmes, encouraging school children to clean up the river and to urge others to keep it clean.
The estimated population of the region is 394 000, representing 14 percent of the population of Greater Johannesburg. It is composed of 87 percent black, 11 percent white, 1 percent Indian and 1 percent coloured people, mostly between 17 and 35 years old. The extremely low percentage (less than 5 percent) of children and the elderly highlights the transient nature of the inhabitants of Alex.
There are a number of challenges facing the region, including:
An uncontrolled influx of people into Alexandra;
Informal settlers along the banks of the Jukskei River;
Perceived high-risk areas;
A housing backlog in Alexandra;
A rise in illegal occupation of land in Marlboro South;
Decay in the Orange Grove area; and
Traffic congestion in the Sandton area.