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Ga-Rankuwa was developed in accordance with the Physical Planning Act of 1967 which hoped to divert industrial development away from the city centres to the border areas of the homelands.This would not only serve the purpose of attracting workers directly from the homelands and providing cheap labour to the factories but would also divert the labour flow away from the city, thereby reducing labour migrancy.Situated 34 km north-west of Pretoria, Ga-rankuwa formed part of the Tswana homeland, Bophutatswana.The area provided housing for the Black labourers and their families and was meant to service the industrial area of Rosslyn, 10 km away.
In other words, although Ga-Rankuwa had been purchased and the community established by the Bakwena Ba Magopa, because it was part of a "Reserve," the apartheid government proposed to use it to accommodate Black people removed from other areas.
The area around Ga-Rankuwa had been settled by Tswana people since at least the 17th century.
Many of these communities were conquered by the invading Ndebele (or Matabele) under Mzilikazi in the early 19th century.
The early residents of Ga-Rankuwa were forcibly removed from fertile land in neighboring Lady Selborne, Bantule, Marabastad, Rama, Newclare, Eastwood and Sophiatown to mention but a few.
The area was named after a Bakgatla headman, Rankuwa Boikhutso. When they arrived in the area, which was infertile and unsuited for farming, they named it Ga-Rankuwa which means "We are not taken".