Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tension in Tembisa

Today I got to spend a whole bunch of hours in Tembisa. With a few hundred angry residents of the Madelakufa squatter camp - as they referred to themselves. Or the inhabitants of the local informal settlement, as Chief Photographer preferred to call them in the belief that this description bestows them with a little more dignity.
It was a typical protest - angry people cross about having been registered on a waiting list for a low cost house for 20 years and still find themselves in shacks. Apparently President Jacob Zuma paid them a visit in June and promised them that they would be getting houses in about November. And now in late October they have discovered that only about 450 of the 2 500 odd residents will be getting homes in a project set to be phased in.
So now the fight is on - who is going to be among the first to get a house, who gets to choose the priority order and where oh where will the other houses for phase 2 onwards be built because there is apparently no more land!
Chief Photographer climbed up and snapped pics of the raging crowd while the two intern photographers who accompanied us also shot pictures. It was a good training ground - all seething masses, armed cops, threatening chaos but nothing actually ever spinning out of control or getting ugly.
Tembisa is one of those townships with a dark edginess to it - where it's hard to feel comfortable and you feel the constant need to watch your back.
So it was with relief that we watched the crowds withdraw after they were promised a decent written response by the Ekhuruleni Housing Department. Tomorrow. Apparently.
I hope we don't have to go rushing back there in the morning to cover a riot!


  1. So what are the answers? Do you know?

  2. next time you visit tembisa, make sure to make a pit-stop at a Buy and Braai!!