Alexandra township was at the forefront of South Africa’s fight against apartheid. So it is shocking that it is now at the centre of attacks on migrants. But the experience in the townships of 14 years of African National Congress (ANC) government has been the slow removal of hope.
The biggest problem is the failure to seriously build social housing. ANC policies have also privatised water and electricity, leading to vastly increased prices and more people being cut off.
Being forced into competition over scarce resources can lead to people turning on each other rather than their real enemies.
But it is far from clear that the majority of people in the townships support attacks on migrants. A return to militant campaigns that demand rights for the poor can end the cycle of despair engulfing South Africa’s poorest.