Mariannridge is situated in the Ward 13 of the Ethekwini Municipality in the province of KwaZulu Natal. It was established in the mid 1970's as a coloured township in the then separate development programme of the Group Areas Act of 1957. The City Council built 600 family units comprising of two and three bedroom flats or semi-detached houses.
The first families arrived in the community in June 1976 and this process of removal from areas not designated for coloured people to the designated coloured community would continue throughout the last quarter of the 1970's. Families came from near by Thornwood and Umlaas, from the burgeoning central business district of Pinetown and neighboring Motala Farm, from the grey communities of Clermont and Mayville.
The area was seriously under-developed for the new inhabitants. There was no vegetation because bulldozers had cleared all the land for construction. There were no shops, schools, churches or day care facilities. This dumping of whole families in an environment not ready to receive and support family life would be felt for many years as the young succumb to the social-ills and consequences of the harshness of forced removals.
The first signs of development began to take shape in the 1980's with the building of the Community Centre which now houses the library and community based projects like MCC. The Mariannridge Primary School was built in 1979 and the Mariannridge High School was built later in 1983. Other developments like the Rainbow Crèche and Pinetown Child Welfare Crèche, the Community Hall, the Fire Station, the Primary Health Care Centre, the football field, swimming pool and parks, the multi-purpose action sports court and the churches all followed throughout the next decade of the 1990's.
The social challenges of the community began in the 1980's with the rise of the gang wars. The violence was mostly about territorial boundaries and lasted for a decade. When the gang violence wore down in the post apartheid moments the new scourge of drugs swept the community. Many of the gang members who had survived death and prison were school drop outs and unskilled and so they became a viable market for drug peddling and use. With the growing use of substance abuse among families other social problems emerged. Violence in the family, neglect of children, sexual violence and crime began to rise. Poverty became a huge consequence as the high school drop-out rate, criminal activity, effects of substance abuse impacted on household's abilities to hold employment and to keep children at school.
The dawn of democracy and freedom should have brought a new set of opportunities for the community but in reality was a double edged sword for formerly coloured citizen's. While together with the majority of South African's democracy ushered in a set of freedoms otherwise not available during apartheid the economic realities dealt a harsh blow for this community. With low educational levels and a mostly unskilled or semi-skilled workforce the community began to struggle to find its niche in the new dispensation.