WHEN THE England football team play their first game at the World Cup in South Africa on Saturday, it will be on land brutally stolen from the poor.
Local activist Thusi Rapoo told Socialist Worker, “The England team is playing at a stadium, and staying at a hotel, on land taken from the people of this area first by apartheid and now administered by the region’s royal family.
“We are angry that there is so much money for such luxury but ordinary people live in severe poverty.”
The England team is based at the Royal Marang Hotel at the BaFokeng Sports Campus, near Rustenburg.
It cost £26 million and includes an 82-room hotel. Along with the zebra print furniture there are two swimming pools, indoor and outdoor, as well as a jacuzzi and sauna.
It’s a far cry from the lives of Rustenburg’s poor, who suffered under apartheid and have seen little economic change since the end of that vile system. Around 80 percent of people live on less than the government itself says is the minimum needed to survive.
The land was taken by white settlers and passed on later to sections of the black elite.
The hotel, and the Royal BaFokeng Sports stadium, were both paid for with money from the area’s platinum mining that the royal family grabbed for itself.
“We have seen nothing for ordinary people from the World Cup,” says Thusi. “We have been demonstrating this week to draw attention to the theft of land. But they say we can’t have more than 15 people taking part or the police will arrest us. The authorities want us cleared out the way when the word’s press and TV are here.”
Amnesty International reported this week that there has been “an increase in police harassment of informal traders, the homeless, and migrants living in shelters”.
The shack dwellers’ movement Abahlal baseMjondolo (ABM) says it will set up shacks outside Cape Town’s stadium to draw attention to continued poverty.
ABM deputy chairperson Mthobeli Zona says, “We live in dirty and smelling places. We have no jobs. We have no toilets. We have no electricity.”
For more, read ‘South Africa’s World Cup Stadium of Slums’