The small Karoo Desert town of Beaufort West has recently been described by the South African Human Rights Commission as “an isolated town that has not broken away from the shackles of South Africa’s apartheid past, [where] economic and social integration is severely limited”. The legacy of Apartheid is clearly evident in many of the social problems in Beaufort West. It has one of the highest rates of unemployment in South Africa with estimates ranging from between 65 and 90 percent. Nearly all of the town’s criminal activity originates and takes place in the five outlying black and colored townships where the majority of the population lives. Petty theft, domestic violence, alcohol-related assault, and child prostitution have been identified as the major problems. Twelve years after the transition to democracy, the ANC government’s successive macro-economic policies have largely failed to address the conditions of poverty and segregation that characterize a town like Beaufort West. Beaufort West is a transit town. Situated at the intersection of two of the busiest national roadways, it serves as a food and overnight stop for travelers of all kinds. Every day, the town’s population doubles with those who pass through it. At night, while the sleepy town is silent, the BP petrol station and the truck stop come alive, winking across the highway at the townships which are also buzzing and awake. And so, those in transit interact with those at the margins in a night-time economy where food, drink, petrol and bodies are all sold. While the lives of many who live on the margins in Beaufort West are extreme and bleak, this town is not all that different to the rest of South Africa. My interest in Beaufort West pivots on the way in which many of the obscured social dynamics that scar this country seem to converge and reveal themselves in this small-town setting.
Country : Afrique du Sud Place : Beaufort West
Number of photos : 20
To receive our information,
enter your email address