Photo Audio Text Multimedia

Sleeping in the Shadow

Sleeping in the shadow of a stadium

Associated feature: Victims of the Beautiful Game (Photo feature)

Samantha Reinders/Twenty Ten

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

When the first soccer game kicks off at the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, R4.5 billion will already have been spent on its construction. Environmental concerns, noise pollution worries and transportation arguments have enmeshed the stadium in controversy since before the first brick was laid however. For many the argument is not the money spent but what the money could instead buy. They argue that the cost is not in Rands but in lives. Many of Cape Town’s townships are without sewage systems, hospitals are horribly under funded and the poor are homeless. R4.5 billion can, roughly, build 60 000 homes, which could house up to 300 000 previously homeless people. This multimedia piece is about a small group of homeless people who live in the shadow of the new Green Point Stadium. Several times in the past few months they have been uprooted from the trees or corners they called home and moved to other areas around the stadium to make way for construction. Although the city has offered to help relocate them, they are not willing to leave the area that they are able to make a minute living from – begging, picking from suburban trash bins and guarding cars in the surrounding upmarket areas. Questions of where they will move to when the construction makes it impossible for them to stay in the area are met with upturned hands and uncertainty…

The life we are living is not good. It’s very bad.

My name is Natasha Flores. I stay here outside at the back of the stadium. In GreenPoint. We sleep in the bush. Me and my friends, we are struggling very hard there. Sometimes we have to sleep without food and we also haven’t got nothing, income or something. But. That’s it. That is how life is.

There are people who come to support us. Like white people. But we also got big problems from where we come from. Its through circumstances, that is why we are outside on the street. Especially like me for example. My uncle he did rape me. He used and abused me. I don’t have my own family and that drive me to the street because there is no body who cares for me.

I think the stadium and the soccer world cup it is beautiful. And it is something important to me. But. It also breaks my heart on the other side. Because if that wasn’t there, we would stay here still. But now the whole generation is changing. Everybody wants to chase us away. Where are we going to get bread. Where are we going to sleep. What are we going to get. There is no income. Nobody cares for us. Everything… the trouble starts with the stadium.

A 5-liter of papsak, is the alcohol that we are drinking. But the reason why they use it is to keep them warm. Taking the stress away, taking the problems away. But at the end of the day it makes the problems worse. But… when you are sober you can’t sleep outside because you are thinking a lot of things and it is scary But when you are drunk you are not scared of no one. And you have all the power that the devil gave you. It is like a blanket to us.

It not easy to stay on the street. Because why – it is a painful life. But if you believe in God you can go through it.

At the end of the day I am a survivor.

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