The last day of my trip to South Africa, I visited some people who do not exist. At least, until recently, they did not “officially” exist according to the government. These are the displaced, poor White people of the country. They live is excruciating poverty. They receive less than $200 a month from the government. Unlike the Black slums, they do not get free water and electricity. They have to fend on their own for food and a place to live.
This is Marta. She wants to change her name to Naomi because she thinks that the name “Marta” brings her troubles. She has a mentally handicapped son who must live with here since there is no government assistance for him. Marta tells us that she doesn’t know what to do about her life. She has little hope it will ever change. Once a long time ago she remembers a different world. No more. Look closely at her face. She is the hidden South Africa.
This is Marta’s bed and Marta’s “house.” She has to rent this 1 room hovel from the landowner who lives in a real house in the front of this property. Her “house” is attached to five others in the same backyard. There is no running water. There is no electricity. There is only the “rent,” $130 per month, and going up. That leaves her with $70 a month for everything else. Begging mostly.
This is the house of the landlord.
Greed is the biggest motivation for the conditions of his rentals. There is no government control of this plight, and there are tens of thousands living this way. This is South Africa after two decades of a more equitable racial solution. This is the South Africa no ones wants you to know about.
There is more. Tomorrow. Today, this is enough.