Tough times for white South African squatters

Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:24am EDT
 
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By Finbarr O'Reilly

KRUGERSDORP, South Africa (Reuters) - Sitting in a deck chair at a white South African squatter camp, Ann le Roux, 60, holds a yellowing photo from her daughter's wedding day.

Taken not long after Nelson Mandela became the country's first black president in 1994, it shows Le Roux standing with her Afrikaans husband and their daughter outside their home in Melville, an upmarket Johannesburg neighborhood.

Sixteen years later, she lives in a caravan and a tent shared with seven other people, including her daughter and four grandchildren, at a squatter camp for poor white South Africans.

She is one of a growing number of whites living below the poverty line in South Africa who blame affirmative action and the ANC-led elected government for their plight.

Le Roux had to sell her house after her husband died and she lost her job as a secretary at the city planning council -- where she had worked for 26 years -- after she took time off work to recover from the loss of her husband.

"They wouldn't take me back because of the political situation," she says, looking down at the fading photo.

"Our color here is not the right color now in South Africa," Le Roux says, echoing the complaint of many impoverished whites, mostly Afrikaners who are descendants of early Dutch and French settlers.

While most white South Africans still enjoy lives of privilege and relative wealth, the number of poor whites has risen steadily over the past 15 years. White unemployment nearly doubled between 1995 and 2005, according to the country's Institute for Security Studies.   Continued...

 
<p>Children walk through a squatter camp for poor white South Africans at Coronation Park in Krugersdorp, March 6, 2010. REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly</p>