Closer to clinics, transport, shops, schools.”
In response, the city generally brushed these comments aside: “This is an emergency housing programme, not poverty alleviation.”
During the preparation phases for building Wolwerivier the issue came up again. in 2011 concern about creating an isolated community in a rural area without work opportunities was raised by the authors of Environmental Impact Assessment for the development. The Environmental Authorisation, which gave the city the go-ahead the following year, echoed this sentiment. Last year and this, minutes of meetings between city officials and the Skandaalkamp leaders show these concerns coming from the community itself. By then, the construction had begun and the plan was all but a done deal.
Relocation, isolation and lost livelihoods are themes that played out through the apartheid era in South Africa. Even by those standards, the early starts and long commutes of Miket and his team are “extreme”. That was the word used in a 1985 Surplus People Project report to describe the response of a rural black community after a forcible relocation from Riebeeck East to Alicedale between 1981 and 1982.
Alicedale, now in the Eastern Cape, was isolated with no work opportunities, but some men managed to get work at the railway goods yard in Port Elizabeth about 100km away. Their daily routines were not dissimilar from those of many Wolwerivier residents today. They too would wake at 2am, get to the city by foot and train to be in time for a 7am start. At 4pm they would return the same way, arriving home at 9pm.
Nationally, Wolwerivier’s completion and the Skandaalkamp relocations coincided with a renewed debate between planners and the government over the isolation of the poor, and what post-
DIFFICULTIES: John Miket was moved from Skandaalkamp, at Vissershok dump site, to Wolwerivier in July. Losing access to scrap and other economic opportunities at the dump has forced him to walk long distances to recycle rubbish in neighbourhoods such as Parklands.
BLEAK: Nomahule Platyi had lived in Skandaalkamp since 1996. She is uncertain about her future at Wolwerivier, because she has not been given title deeds to the home in which she now lives.