Soshanguve is a township north of the South African capital of Pretoria. A township is a large high density suburb initially built by the Apartheid government to house black workers. Soshanguve was established in 1974. It is an abbreviation for Sotho, Shangaan, Nguni and Venda, languages spoken in this township. In 2006 Soshanguve was the scene of riots to poor service delivery.
„They said people are striking for service delivery. I wondered how people can destroy the road looking for water. And obviously when they will get water, they will destroy it again demanding the road to be fixed. They strike destroying schools, hospitals, shops, cars and many times people die but nobody cares. People who are from other countries stay in this area with fear and insecurity because anything small triggers the community to start killing them. People believe that foreigners take their girlfriends and their jobs. That is why people always try to take the law in their hands by chasing or killing those foreigners out of their area."
Today, townships are still being extended by the government to deal with the huge demand for formal housing in the country. The houses are very small, about the size of a two cars garage. Typically, they have steel frame windows, metal doors and a corrugated iron roof - so-called shacks.
Many People live in those shacks. Families that are formed of up to 14 people and none of them or only one of them is working. In Block NN, the home of Kgomotso Children Centre, government started to build RDP houses (Reconstruction and Development Programme). However, it is a long and slow process. On the other side of the street the situation is still worse. Winterveld, another township, is full of shacks. Everywhere, people are suffering from malnutrition and from problems within their families.
At KCC most children come from families who only survive by children grant. Children grant is the money that the government gives to children whose parents are not employed. Unfortunatley this encourages young girls to have children so that the whole family can have money to buy food. Other young teenage girls have boyfriends who are adults and they call them sugar-daddies. They provide them with money for food, airtime, and clothes.
"Girls go for prostitution, even when they are still in school because they believe that if there is no money at home they should find boyfriends who give them money to help their families. Even some mothers send their girls to look for money for the family. Most girls in township have their babies because the government gives them grant money to raise their babies. So a child of 13 and 15 has a baby and nobody cares.
Most parents in this area are always drinking, fighting or sleeping with their girlfriends or boyfriends in the presence of their children. At the same time they don’t care where their children go and what they do. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday children are at home alone and they do whatever they wish to do and go wherever they wish to go as nobody cares. Few of those children have been raped by their relatives and their parents do not do anything about it. Most of young girls have taxi drivers as their boyfriends because they give them money. Those taxi drivers have their wives and children but still they go for young children.“
Many children at KCC come from alcoholic families where nobody cares about the welfare of the child. There is much domestic violence involved - physically and emotionally. Most of the children don't know their fathers, others live with relatives because both of their parents passed away.
There is a serious problem of abusing drugs. The most popular drug is Nyaope. It is a mixture of everything: Washing powder, ratex medication, antiretroviral tablets, grandpa's medication and so on. Children as young as 8 years are abusing those drugs and sometimes drug dealers sell them at the gate of schools.
Schools are not expensive but the situation at schools is bad. Children come to school hungry, the classrooms are badly equipped, teachers badly trained and skilled. There is no school in Block NN. Children have to walk far to get to school. They hardly study anything.
"When they finish grade 7 many don't know how to read or write. They finish matric (grade 12) with 20 to 45% in English and Maths. It is very sad. With such results they won't find a university or college that accepts them and it is difficult for them to find jobs at all."
Religion plays another important role in township life. Traditional healers have big power in the communities. On the other hand, each and everyone has the right to start a church. So you find a church in each and every corner of the street. Some are really misleading people but others are helping people. Some are full while others have only few members.
With the help of KCC children try to make a difference in their lives. Learn about how they look at their situation by reading what they say in the section "children's voices".