Film exposes poverty and exploitation behind the World Cup facade

By agency reporter
11 Jun 2010

As World Cup hosts South Africa kick-off the tournament against Mexico today, the charity War on Want is launching a new film which contrasts the huge sums spent by the South African government with growing poverty for the country’s people.

The three-minute film includes still pictures of homeless women forced to sleep on the streets after they were evicted from a hostel in the grounds of Somerset Hospital in Cape Town. The BBC is using the hospital roof for its World Cup studio.

It also features on film Llewellyn Wilters, who faces eviction from derelict training changing rooms near the city’s Athlone stadium, where England will train before their group match with Algeria on 18 June 2010.

According to Wilters, though large numbers of people are happy that the World Cup is taking place in South Africa, the tournament has thrown many others on to the streets.

Wilters says: "There is no electricity, no water, no sanitation. Even our children are asking: ‘Where are we going after the World Cup?’ Those who come to South Africa for the World Cup, let them enjoy it. But we have a battle to fight. We are homeless."

The film shows residents who live with families in one-room corrugated tin shacks at Cape Town’s Blikkiesdorp transit camp.

The camp houses 15,000 evicted people, including many who have been moved to 'clean up' Cape Town for the World Cup.

Another shack dweller, Jane Roberts, said the authorities had moved some people from the streets into Blikkiesdorp so that tourists would not see them.

Roberts adds: "They told us it is temporary. But it is not temporary. This is a dumping place for people."

But at the camp, Henry Mposa and five family members cram into one room – including his wife, one of his children and a grandchild, who all suffer from tuberculosis.

Mposa says: "Trillions, millions, but they can do nothing about the situation we are living in here. When it’s winter, it’s cold, it’s raining inside. In summertime, it’s very hot. There is no work. What can you do?"

Cynthia Twigg, another Blikkiesdorp resident, says: The government has got lots of money to build stadiums. But they haven’t got money to build us houses. I think only the rich of the government will benefit - not us."

And a further shack dweller, Stanley Lickman, who has remained on the housing waiting list for 22 years, adds: "The people of South Africa always come last."

War on Want programmes officer, Caroline Elliot, commented: "The South African government has spent vast sums to create a spectacle watched by over two billion people around the world. Yet South Africa is one of the most unequal countries on the planet. These inequalities must be addressed as a matter of urgent priority."

The charity – with its South Africa partner the Anti-Eviction Campaign - is urging Britons to support its campaign for an end to evictions and the denial of public services.

South Africa is splashing out $4.1 billion to stage the biggest football event on earth – the most ever spent by any host government.

The new Green Point stadium in Cape Town cost $600 million, with the renovated Athlone training ground another $39 million.

And football’s governing body, FIFA, has already made $3.2 billion on this year’s tournament, the largest profit ever recorded in the run-up to the World Cup.

Yet four in ten South Africans struggle to survive on less than two dollars a day.

According to Article 26 in South Africa’s constitution, “Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing.”

A high definition version of the film can be downloaded in under 15 minutes at https://download.yousendit.com/OHo2WUhxeFhQb0x2Wmc9PQ A web-quality version for immediate viewing is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFsgCUhYNxg

[Ekk/3]

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