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Khayelitsha, meaning in Xhosa our new home is by far the biggest township in Cape Town, and is said to be the fastest growing one in 2002. It is home to 600 000 people. It is situated on the Cape Flats, far from the city center. You will be able to see the shacks below you as your flight comes in to land at Cape Town international airport.

The township was started in the early 1980s, as a government effort to organise exiting illegal settlements. Originally Khayelitsha, was a squatter community, a unplanned collection of homemade shacks without electricity or running water.

In 1990 the population of Khayelitsha was estimated at 450,000 and unemployed at 80 per cent. Roughly 14 per cent lived in small core houses, 54 per cent in serviced shacks, and 32 per cent in unserviced ones. Hardly anyone had electricity and most inhabitats had to fetch water from taps. Social control was largely maintained by unofficial, unpopularly elected councils.
But since then apartheid has ended, there is now planning for the benefit of the people. Khayelitsha has been acknowledged as a part of the city and servces are being provided. Housing projects are building permanent houses.

Oddly enough this dirty, dangerous, poor slum is a tourist desitination. Township tours will show you how the township residents live.

Despite having lived for 30 years in Cape Town, I have never set foot within Khayelitsha.

The Guardian, 24 August 2002

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