We had occasion yesterday to drive to Freedom Park, a development in the Cape Town suburb of Tafelsig. We sponsor a family there and were dropping off some things they need.
Freedom Park is a very interesting 'test case' for how the land issue (see previous posts) might play out in urban settings. Formally an informal settlement (South African for 'slum') but upgraded into formal housing, Freedom Park is located in Mitchell’s Plain, one of poorest districts of Cape Town.
It was established around 1998 when a group of what are called 'backyarders' (a term for people who erect shacks at the back of established houses in return for rent to the home owner) occupied state-owned land ear-marked for a school (which was never built).
For around four years, like most informal settlemenets, the residents of Freedom Park lived without basic services like water, electricity and sanitation until 2001 when the municipality provided rudimentary services.
The family we sponsor has two incomes from formal employment, which is very unusual, so they have a high social standing in the community and are well respected. Whilst Tafelsig has some very deeply entrenched social problems, the community is active and strongly focused on social cohesion, which our family is able to contribute to.
You can read more about research into this kind of development here.
Images: The Daily Voice