Life in ‘Tin Can Town’

… for the South Africans evicted ahead of World Cup
Campaigners say conditions in Blikkiesdorp or ‘Tin Can Town’ are worse than in the townships created during apartheid

Published on The Guardian.co.uk, by David Smith in Cape Town, April 1, 2010.

Children squint as wind whips the grey sand into their faces. A teenager braves the flies and stench of a leaking outdoor toilet to draw water from a standpipe. He stares vacantly along regimented rows of corrugated iron shacks encircled by a tall, concrete fence. No grass or trees grow here.

This is Tin Can Town, or Blikkiesdorp, described by the mayor of Cape Town as a “temporary relocation area” (TRA), but by its residents as a concentration camp. Many say they were forcibly evicted from their former homes and moved here against their will. And for this they blame one thing: the football World Cup.

“It’s a dumping place,” said Jane Roberts, who lives in the sparsely furnished structure known as M49. “They took people from the streets because they don’t want them in the city for the World Cup. Now we are living in a concentration camp.”

Roberts, 54, added: “It’s like the devil runs this place. We have no freedom. The police come at night and beat adults and children. South Africa isn’t showing the world what it’s doing to its people. It only shows the World Cup” …

… Unemployment:

The Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign said: “The lives of small businesses and informal traders in South Africa have been destroyed by this World Cup. If we are not allowed to trade near stadiums, fan parks and other tourist areas, how can we benefit from tourism?”

The new stadiums heralded a construction boom, but many of the workers who built them have already been laid off and are without work.

Caroline Elliot, international programmes officer for the anti-poverty group War on Want, said: “Behind the spectacle, the World Cup is exacerbating the struggle of poor South Africans who are facing evictions, lack of public services and unemployment. The South African government needs to tackle these problems as an urgent priority.”

Andile Mngxitama, a political commentator and columnist, is about to publish a pamphlet entitled “Fuck the World Cup”.

He said: “We never needed the World Cup. It is a jamboree by the politicians to focus attention away from the 16 years of democracy that have not delivered for the majority of black people in this country. We’ll be trapped with white elephant stadiums.”

He added: “The World Cup is not about football or so-called tourism. It’s about politicians hoping it keeps us busy for a month and making enormous amounts of money for themselves and their friends.” (full long text).

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