Poverty is so extreme in SA that even lower middle class area looks rich

03 May 2019 - 08:50 By timeslive
Sandton skyline seen from Alexandra township. The juxtaposition between the rich and the poor is especially evident in Alexandra, where some of South Africa's poorest live in the shadow of some of the country's richest. File photo.
Sandton skyline seen from Alexandra township. The juxtaposition between the rich and the poor is especially evident in Alexandra, where some of South Africa's poorest live in the shadow of some of the country's richest. File photo.
Image: Alon Skuy

Primrose is a working class suburb of Germiston in Ekurhuleni, to the east of Johannesburg. It is not a wealthy area. But this conventional metric is skewed by the sprawling squatter camp adjacent to it.

Drone footage from photographer Johnny Miller, which depicts the wide income gap in SA, was published by US-based Time magazine on Friday.

The magazine published aerial views of suburbs in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.

This followed the release of a World Bank report a year ago which found SA to be the most unequal country, out of a ranking of 149 countries. The report found the top 1% of South Africans own 70.9% of the country’s wealth, while the bottom 60% only controls 7% of the country’s assets. Neighbours Namibia and Botswana were second and third.

Time interviewed President Cyril Ramaphosa about the challenges, during which he explained the historical marginalisation of black South Africans, from access to education and jobs, aggravated by spatial planning, which meant living long distances from work opportunities.

The magazine also tackled him on the rampant corruption of recent years.

"It would be wishful thinking that compromised institutions could turn around, without them being revamped and reconstructed and repositioned.

"These things do take time. But I can assure everyone that the die is cast," Ramaphosa pledged.

"These misdemeanors are going to be followed up. They are going to be properly processed, and there will be prosecutions. People will have to answer for the wrongs that they have done."

See more from the Time report here.

Miller calls his visualisation of inequality “Unequal Scenes”. The project has already expanded to Baltimore, Mumbai, Mexico City and Nairobi, and he intends to grow the project by involving students, activists and other photographers.


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