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Tin Can Town (NR)

Nikki Rixon/TwentyTen

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

In an attempt to ‘clean-up’ the streets of South Africa’s mother city, hundreds of informal settlers, street kids and the homeless have been forcibly moved off the streets and relocated to Blikkiesdorp, a temporary dumping ground made up of one-room, corrugated iron shacks.

With the FIFA World Cup tournament being held for the first time on the African continent, all eyes have been on South Africa as state of the art stadiums have sprung up all over the country and improvements on the roads, communication systems and tourist facilities have been made. But in an attempt to shield football fans from the ugly reality of homelessness and poverty, a clean-up operation was unleashed in the coastal city.

Blikkiesdorp (or ‘Tin Can Town’ as translated from the Afrikaans) is an informal settlement that was built in 2007 by the City of Cape Town to house 1,600 people who were evicted from illegal dwellings. It is sandwiched between sand dunes and the main road that runs through Delft. A bleak area of gravel and sand, it is far away from any commercial or residential areas. This has serious socio-economic repercussions for the residents.

"I'm glad to have a home, but we are so far away from everything,” said one resident, Natasha. “We used to find our food in the rubbish bins of residential areas and we got money from begging, but now there’s nothing around. We can go three or four days without food."

The houses are generally viewed as sub-standard, and the residents suffer harsh restrictions, such as a 10pm curfew, a ban on construction and a directive to only cook in designated areas.

There are now approximately 15,000 people living in Blikkiesdorp. Many of them are unhappy to be there. The units lack insulation and gaps are clearly visible between the tin sheets, leading to very cold and miserable winters for the inhabitants. In spite of this, residents have done their best to make the shacks feel like home.

With no postcodes allocated to the tin huts in this area, residents find it difficult to get jobs or any form of financial assistance.

Ironically, the residents are enduring these conditions only 30 kilometres from Africa's most expensive stadium. The residents are in limbo, not knowing how long they will have to live in the temporary housing. There are 400,000 people waiting for housing in the Western Cape Province alone, and all pending applications have been put on hold in order to finance World Cup-related schemes.

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