Tin Can Town: Thousands Evicted for World Cup

What is affected
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 01 January 2008
Region AFA [ Africa anglophone ]
Country South Africa
Location various areas, Cape Town

Affected persons

Total 15000
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution


Forced eviction

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Brief narrative 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."

President Jacob Zuma`s government insists that sport`s biggest showpiece is already benefiting the whole nation, creating jobs, improving infrastructure and transforming its image abroad. It has lavished some R13bn (£1.15bn) on world-class venues, with none more breathtaking than the Cape Town Stadium that will host England in June.

Yet a short drive from the city`s expensively upgraded airport, a drive few tourists are likely to make, boys kick up dust and stones in Blikkiesdorp because the spending spree failed to provide them with a park.

Campaigners argue that this bleak place in Delft township shows that Africa`s first World Cup has become a tool to impress wealthy foreigners at the expense of its own impoverished people. Residents say it is worse than the townships created by the white minority government before the end of racial apartheid in 1994.

In view of cloud-capped mountains, Blikkiesdorp was built in 2008 for an estimated R32m (£2.9m) to provide "emergency housing" for about 650 people who had been illegally occupying buildings. To visitors, the column after column of one-room shacks, each spraypainted with a designated code number, are disturbingly reminiscent of District 9, last year`s hit science fiction film about space aliens forced to live in an informal Johannesburg settlement. Residents said this week there were about 15,000 people struggling to live in about 3,000 of the wood and iron structures, with more arriving all the time. City officials claimed these figures were inaccurate but said the site was designed to cater for 1,667 families in total.

In some cases families of six or seven people are crammed into living spaces of three by six metres. They complain that the corrugated walls swelter in summer temperatures of 40C and offer little protection from the cold in winter. Tuberculosis and HIV are rife. Babies have been born at Blikkiesdorp and, still unknown to the state, officially do not exist.

(Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/01/south-africa-world-cup-blikkiesdorp, 1 April 2010)
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