Saturday, June 13, 2020

Apartheid Remains

More than 25 years after the end of white minority rule, South Africa remains one of the most unequal countries in the world, according to the World Bank, with urban areas starkly divided along racial lines. 

Townships in the Western Cape province, South Africa's coronavirus hotspots, are suffering particularly high rates of infection.

Nearly 12 percent of all infections in the Western Cape are in Khayelitsha, the largest township in Cape Town, even though it has just 6 percent of the province's population.
By contrast, Stellenbosch, known for its Winelands and a university town, has just 1 percent of Western Cape's cases and makes up about 4 percent of its population.

"We are seeing townships become virus hotspots because we haven't dismantled the apartheid city," said Edward Molopi, a researcher with housing and human rights charity the Socio-Economic Research Institute in Johannesburg. Molopi said the virus had exposed how little had changed in South African cities since apartheid ended. "During apartheid, Black people had to live in sub-standard, crowded, unsanitary conditions, far from economic opportunity," Molopi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Not much has changed."
Human rights defenders have said security forces were deployed to enforce lockdowns mainly in poor Black areas like high-density townships, where higher population numbers and overcrowding made it impossible to properly isolate.
"COVID-19 has exposed the brutal inequality in South Africa," said Chris Nissen, a commissioner from the South African Human Rights Commission, an independent watchdog. "People say all lives should matter, but what about people in townships? Don't their lives matter too?" said Nissen.

No comments: