Delft South Africa
Delft in South Africa is a township near Cape Town. Townships were raised in the time of apartheid for black and coloured people, a result of the Group Areas Act that separated people by the colour of their skin. Illegal squatter camps mushroomed on the sandy plains to the east of Cape Town, the Cape Flats. Across the Cape Flats there are different townships like Langa, Crossroads, Guguletu en Kayelitsha, which are now home to possibly two million or more people - no one really knows.
In 1987 the government started the planning of a township for coloureds with low incomes, named Delft. The houses were sold with a government subsidy to the residents, to encourage private house ownership. In the oldest part of Delft, that consists of four areas: Voorburg, Roosendaal, The Hague en Eindhoven, the houses have three or four rooms. The quality of the houses is criticised severely especially the foundations seem to be insufficient, so houses are subsiding.
The houses in the most recent part of Delft, Delft South, are much smaller, about 25 square meters living space. In this part of Delft, planned after apartheid, mainly Xhosa speaking blacks are living. For them Dutch names are hard to pronounce, so Delft South has no areas named after Dutch cities. The coloured people speak Afrikaans and have no difficulties with the Dutch names. For the new area of 6.320 houses to be built in the west of Delft a Dutch city name is chosen pronounceable by both communities: Leiden.
The township is called Delft because there was a farm named Delft in this area. Many Dutch colonists had farms in the area with Dutch names such as Rotterdam. Delft was special because there was a medical research centre established where Dr. Christian Barnard did his heart transplant research on animals. There is still the Medical Research Centre Delft working on cancer research.
Herman Steijn, Manager Housing Development
There reside about an estimated 120.000 people in Delft. Most houses have an informal extension.The houses are offered with basic facilities such as electricity and water and a certain amount of square meters living space, necessary because the families are large, with grandparents and other family members living in. There is space for extending the houses, with corrugated sheets, timber and other materials. Some of the extensions are sublet.
The area where Delft was built used to be a windy dune landscape. They levelled the dunes and built the houses on the dune sand. Especially in the winter there are very strong winds on the Cape Flats blowing the sand around. This causes a lot of discomfort. The sandy ground also explains the reason for the absence of green. Grass and trees will not grow without irrigation and water is in short supply. There is a park, called the Nelson Mandela Freedom Park, but for security reasons it is only possible to enter the park on appointment.
The Delft community has to deal with a lot of problems. Problems which seem to be common to many South African townships, such as unemployment, crime and HIV. But the figures for Delft are high compared with surrounding communities. An estimated one out of nine children and one out of five complete families is HIV positive. Many people use drugs, not only adults but also children. Gangs control drug and alcohol trade, lead by so called drug barons. The gangs do fight each other with firearms to control their territories. Ethnical background plays a role too in the battles. Many young children dream of a future as gangster and do not go to school. Their gloomy picture of the future is an unmistakable reason for this. Many gangsters have been in prison and their status is based on their conviction. The residents do not have much confidence in politics because their high expectations after the end of apartheid can not be realised in short term. The enormous problems need a long term approach while most of the problems like arrears of rent, water and electricity cutt offs, and malnutrition are current problems. The multitudes of religions seem to offer an alternative for the desperate existence of many people. Churches also hand out food to those who suffer malnutrition. Sexually transmitted diseases are the main problems for health care. The different prevention programs for venereal diseases and HIV do not seem to be very effective to date. Rape is an important cause for these diseases. In Delft Community Health Centre an average of 24 rapes a week were registered in 2000.
Nico Janssen, principal Delft Primary School
Mrs. Wilma Brady, city councillor
Pastor Martins, Faith Welfare Organisation
Mrs. Isabel Moses, Health Promotion Officer