Empty Assurances and Disregard for South African Hostel Residents

Empty Assurances and Disregard for South African Hostel Residents

On a cold Soweto day, sixty-one-year-old Mlindelwa Mtungwa Assurances uses a small two-plate stove that is connected to an outside power source to prepare food in his cramped, poorly lighted room at the Diepkloof hostel.

Seventy-nine miles (about 14 km) south of the city center, the father of six from Msinga village in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province relocated to South Africa’s economic center in 1979, hoping for a better life. Since then, he has resided there.

Turning chunks of chicken gently in a saucepan, he remembered, with a surprising amount of love, how well-run the male-only, stringent dorms had been under the apartheid regime, and how plentiful the jobs had been, helping him to send money home and pay his rent.

We had work despite the system’s oppression of us. He lamented how few of those necessities are still available today. “The hostel had electricity, flushing toilets, and showers with warm water,” he remarked. First established on the mines and after that in townships like Soweto, hostels housed Black men from rural areas of the nation who were in high demand for cheap labor during the apartheid era.

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