South Africa’s White Poverty Growing

Lucia Mutikani, Reuters, Dec. 10

VANDERBIJLPARK, South Africa—South Africa, once Africa’s last bastion of white rule, has something you don’t often see elsewhere on the continent: poor whites.

A few years ago it was unimaginable to see whites begging at traffic lights or working as parking attendants. Now it is a common sight.

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According to a United Nations Development Programme report last year, 6.9 percent of the country’s white population lived on less than 354 rand per month—the national poverty line in 2002—up from 1.5 percent in 1995.

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Some like Santie Nienaber have found shelter in flimsy structures erected behind other people’s property and garages.

In the black townships, such structures are referred to as squatter camps, but Nienaber prefers to call the rows of shacks behind Sally Bruwer’s house as a “transit camp”.

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Political parties such as the predominantly white Afrikaner Freedom Front Plus blame the government’s affirmative action policy and describe it as a new form of discrimination.

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