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Big Issue 10 Sept - 1 Oct 2010

Big Issue 10 Sept - 1 Oct 2010

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Published by Scottster
Big Issue magazine. A feature of mine, written and photographic, of the plight of some white South Africans west of Johannesburg.
Big Issue magazine. A feature of mine, written and photographic, of the plight of some white South Africans west of Johannesburg.

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Published by: Scottster on Jan 01, 2011
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01/01/2011

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Coming to grips with poverty All Photos: Scott Smith
 ‘re uio oirit y  estimtes tht t est 450 000 white outh ricsie eow the  poert y  ie
 
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hoto
 
essay 
unemployment nearly doubled between1995 and 2005.“It aected the white people terribly,”laments Abbott. “There are no jobs or thewhite people. The black people are cheaplabour.”Trade union Solidarity,which largelylooks ater the interests o whiteArikaners, estimates that at least 450 000white South Aricans — 10% o the whitepopulation — live below the poverty line.With nowhere else to go and with theperception that they are excluded romgovernment housing schemes based ontheir skin colour, many poor whites endup in places like Coronation Park.“They [the government] won’t give ushouses. We are not black. And that aectsthe policy towards us,” claims Abbott.“When we came here some our yearsago, it was terrible. Some people wereonly in tents, some just under blankets onthe ground, some were pregnant women.When we started here we asked ordonations and then got caravans and thenmoved the people in there.”Kobus Oosthuizen, a Christian minister
25 th Big Iss 10 Sp 10 - 1 Oc 10
By Scott Smith
 L
ie is busy in the early morninghere in the small settlement o Coronation Park, in Krugersdorpon the outskirts o west Johannesburg. Cats lick themselves inthe warm sun and everywhere can beheard the sound o a sweeping broombrushing up the resh allen leaves. Thereis hammering in the distance or homerepairs and children start bouncing aball in the pot-holed street. But this is noregular suburban scene. Technically, thisis an illegal settlement, or what is morecommonly called a squatter camp.Coronation Park is municipal land; theresidents pay no rent and they eke out anexistence in this popular picnic spot underthe shading pine trees through sheerdetermination to survive in a country theyeel has abandoned them. The residentsare white, poor and largely Arikaans.During the apartheid era a scene likethis was unthinkable. Under apartheidimpoverished whites enjoyed subsidisedhousing, sheltered employment, andother general protections. But all o that isnow gone.Irene Abbott, the sel-declared mothero Coronation Park and maker o the rulessays: “Once in lie, the black were blackand the white were white. Now they arewhite and we are black.”The protection disappeared withthe 1994 democratic election and theimplementation o armative actionpolicies. Since then, the number o poorwhites has risen steadily and the Instituteor Security Studies reports that white
Unemployed, unhoused and unhappy 
Whites toe thepoverty line
who helps where he can at anotherwhite settlement called Sonskyn Hoekie,north o Pretoria, says there are over 70such settlements around Pretoria alone.Some are on private land but or thoseon municipal land, there is the constantthreat o removal.In 2009, the Mogale city council calledor the squatters o Coronation Park torelocate to a site near Munsieville, a blacktownship north west o Krugersdorp.Residents reused to move and themunicipality led a court case which theysubsequently lost.With the current building o acement and stone church, it is clear theresidents o Coronation Park considerthis permanent. “We are here to stay.The municipality cannot touch us,” saysAbbott condently.“We build things,” she adds. “One daythe people’s eyes are going to all out o their heads. They won’t believe what wedid with Coronation Park; they alwayssay there are druggies here. Everyone cansay what they want, but you can’t judge abook by its cover.”The camp is indeed well kept andhome improvements seem to be the mainactivity. “I consider this a permanentplace,” says another man, who has beenin Coronation Park or over ve years andwas tending the small vegetable gardenoutside his shack.Currently there are some 230 people,including 54 children in CoronationPark. Given that there were 430 people acouple years ago, it is clear not everyone
 ‘We are hereto stay. Themunicipality cannot touch us’ —Irene Abbott
 
26 th Big Iss 10 Sp 10 – 1 Oc 10
 ‘here ws  time whe white  peo pe use to he p usut ow othi g comes i’  ree ott
A h pas na h suu ha s no hom

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