Apartheid to blame for shortage of housing
THE LETTER from Mike Thurgood (Weekend Argus, November 7) refers.
Although I agree that not everything can be blamed on the previous government, it is not entirely blameless for the housing mess in the Western Cape.
The Cape was declared a “coloured labour preference area” and no provision was made for migrant labourers, except at the men’s hostels. Possibly the government thought this system would work similarly to the mines; however, soon migrant workers’ families wanted to join them but there was nowhere to stay, so Crossroads and KTC sprang up.
More people migrated here to find jobs, but the government’s approach to this problem was to bulldoze the shacks (usually in the worst Cape winters). This did not drive people away, the shacks sprang up again and the bulldozers returned, and so it went on.
Even in those days of press censorship, pictures of a person’s only shelter being destroyed by bulldozers were published, incensing the public – members of the Black Sash lay down in front of the bulldozers to stop them; some people (even some government supporters) gave these women and children shelter until victimised by their neighbours.
Eventually, the government relented and Khayelitsha was born, but that was too little too late, so the shacks remained. Some people also didn’t want to move so far away from their work places, so they refused to move (in fact there was a movement discouraging people to move at the time). It would seem those who chose to move were lucky in the end because those houses were better built than some of the ones built today.
Possibly if the previous government hadn’t adopted its “head in the sand” policy and realised some sort of accommodation was needed for these people, maybe the situation here in the Western Cape would not be so bad today.