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Townships in Cape Town

Townships in Cape Town

Did you know that in Cape Town, between 18 and 21% of rented dwellings are shacks? There are approximately 193 000 households living in 204 informal settlements across Cape Town, some of which are built on wetlands.

Township life first hand

Zanele Pondoyi came to Cape Town from the Eastern Cape to seek employment.

“I arrived in Cape Town in 2004. I lived with my aunt also here in Khayelitsha, in Kuyasa, I then moved to my place [a shack in Harare, Khayelitsha] in 2010. I got a plot, then bought a shack that was already built, made of wood, with a roof and everything. I paid R2000 for it, but I’m sure now it is more expensive. I am on a housing waiting list since 2006. I don’t really have a problem with living in a shack because the area I am in is not that congested and I have lived in a shack before.”

Only 15% of SA’s population earn enough to secure a mortgage

Substandard housing remains a legacy of apartheid almost two decades after South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994.  2004 the City of Cape Town commissioned a study to provide data to inform the upgrading of the city’s informal settlements. These are a few of the results:

  • Household size ranged from 1 to 12 members.
  • The age profile of residents was skewed to job-seekers aged between 16 and 34 years, and young children under 5 years old. About one third of residents were dependent children.
  • Formal education levels were low, with only 16 % of adults with matric. Among the unemployed, less than 2 % had matric.
  • Almost 600 households (23 %) had members suffering from tuberculosis; 450 (5%) of household members were described by respondents as ‘chronically ill’ with TB.
  • Average household income (for the three study areas), which was captured as the amount contributed monthly by household members to maintain the household, was R 1315 per month (- inclusive of state support grants, received by 41 % of households).

Volunteer organisations

To assist with the challenges faced by households in the informal settlements, volunteer organisations such as Dreams To Reality provide support and opportunities to children growing up in Cape Town’s townships, providing them with educational and fun activities to promote the learning of important life skills. To volunteer with DTR click here to find out more.



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