Football: The other side of the World Cup

Cape Town is having its biggest moment ever, or at least since the afternoon Nelson Mandela spoke to the masses from the balcony of City Hall hours after being released from 27 years in jail.

Locals were high on the excitement of the South Africa vs Mexico game, broadcast on giant screens in every square in Cape Town to tens of thousands of people. Yet the local papers report on another less glamorous story from the townships on the other side of the Table Mountain that is the city’s natural barrier between the mainly white rich and the black and coloured poor.

A toilet war has broken out in the massive black Khayelitsha suburb, home to probably a half a million people. The Social Justice Coalition, a popular NGO in the area, believes that concern over access to toilets is the "primary challenge to safety" for residents. The death rate from diarrhoea in children under five is 111 per 100,000 population – by far the highest in Cape Town. One section of Kyayelitsha (RR Section) has 3,000 households and only 58 communal taps and 129 toilets, many not functional.

The City administration is run by the Democratic Alliance, which is slightly to the Right of the ANC. Under pressure for the masses, they built 1315 toilets in 2007, enclosing 1265 of them with corrugated iron to provide a modicum of privacy. The ANC Youth League believing the there should be 1 toilet for every 5 homes, rather than 1 for 1, and therefore feeling shown up by the DA, destroyed some toilets and soon after the City authorities dismantled another 65 more.

The masses have nothing now and when asked for a quote from The Cape Times, the office of the Mayor, Dan Plato, said "we are too busy with the World Cup".

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June 2010