Khayelitsha has developed a rich culture and is one of the largest and fastest growing townships in South Africa. Located on the outskirts of Cape Town, Khayelitsha is home to nearly 400,000 residents — the majority are Xhosa — in an area of approximately 39 sq km (15 sq mi). That’s more than 25,000 people per square mile. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Khayelitsha.
Sources: CapeTown.Travel,, , , , Census 2011, Ground Up, , , Stbweb02.
This article originally appeared on AFKInsider.com.
Plans to build Khayelitsha were first announced in 1983
Cape Town initially opposed the Group Areas Act passed in 1950 under the apartheid government, which assigned racial groups to different business and residential sections in urban areas. But Cape Town quickly became one of the most severely segregated areas in the country. It built its first group area in the city in 1957. Dr. Piet Koornhof, Minister of Co-operation and Development, announced plans to build Khayelitsha in 1983. Within its first two years, Khayelitsha became home to more than 30,000 people.
“Khayelitsha” is Xhosa for “New Home”
Khayelitsha was one of the apartheid regime’s final attempts to enforce the Group Areas Act, as well as to attempt to deal with the influx to Cape Town of migrants from the Eastern Cape and overcrowding in other townships in the city. The majority of Khayelitsha’s residents, both at its inception as well as present-day, are Xhosas.
The initial population of Khayelitsha was forcefully relocated there
While some were moved there peacefully, many of Khayelitsha’s first residents were moved there through violence as authorities sought to find “solutions” to deal with the black population. The move to populate the new area of Khayelitsha was opposed by the African National Congress, but was endorsed by the Witdoeke, a vigilante group led by Johnson Ngxobongwana that was actively supported by the apartheid government.
The apartheid government preferred to locate “legal” black South Africans to the Western Cape, and “illegals” to the Transkei region
An influx-control system was put in place to prevent Xhosas from traveling from the Western Cape to the Transkei in the east, without permits, and vice versa. It wasn’t until the 1994 elections and the end of the apartheid regime that Khayelitsha’s residents were allowed to move freely between regions, and began moving around in search of work and education.
Khayelitsha has a very youthful population
Just 7% of Khayelitsha’s population is above the age of 50, and more than 40% of its residents are below age 19. While this contributes to a vibrant and enthusiastic community, it also contributes to the high statistics of young adults living in poverty in South Africa.
The average earnings in Khayelitsha have risen considerably over the last decade
In 2001, a negligible percentage of households in Khayelitsha were earning more than R25,000 (US$2,340) a month. However, studies from 2011 show that more than 1,400 households were earning more than R25,000 a month, a marked increase.
Khayelitsha’s District Hospital, opened in Feburary 2012, marked an important step in healthcare access
The new hospital has an emergency room, medical and surgical wards, along with infrastructure for obstetrics, gynecology, pediatrics, and nursing. This hospital adds to the pre-existing provincial government clinics — Khayelitsha, Michael Maphongwana and Nolungile community health clinics.
Khayelitsha is home to one of the most dangerous beaches in the country
Khayelitsha’s Monwabisi beach, located on the coast of False Bay, is notorious for numerous drownings each year. A wall was initially built to create a calm cove for the area, but instead it resulted in dangerous currents. In the past five years, more than 50 people have drowned at Monwabisi.
A visitor center recently opened on Look Out Hill to promote tourism in the area
Look Out Hill, one of the highest hills in the area, recently became home to a tourist facility consisting of a restaurant, gift shop, and information kiosk designed to draw more tourists to the area. The facility offers 360-degree views of the region encompassing False Bay, the Hottentots Holland Mountain range, Helderberg and Groot Drakenstein.
Football for Hope was built in Khayelitsha in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup
The Football for Hope center was built in Khayelitsha before the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa in an attempt to spread enthusiasm for the tournament — and football in general — around the country. Grassroot Soccer operates out of this center and integrates soccer with HIV-prevention education, as well as life skills programs for youth in Khayelitsha.