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February – March 2024 : The little things READ ONLINE

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South African football move-on

Cape Town ‘concentration camps‘ International sporting events may be good for the economy, but the jury is still out on whether hosting big games helps all sections of society. The FIFA World Cup is due to be hosted by South Africa in 2010 - and last month, human rights groups in Cape Town claimed that South African cities are planning to create "concentration camps" to house thousands of poor people well away from the football stadiums. According to a report in The Times newspaper, charities have seen leaked documents that show plans to clear the streets of the homeless during the tournament. Councils in Johannesburg and Durban have told charities that street children and the destitute will be "compassionately relocated out of city centres" from the end of 2009. Bill Rogers, from the Addiction Action Campaign, which helps thousands of drug abusers in Johannesburg, said the local councils had even asked charities for assistance with the scheme. He told The Times: "We've been made aware of the city's plans to move thousands of homeless people to shelters away from the city." The Pavement has long been examining London's hopes to "end rough sleeping by 2012", the same year the nation's capital will host the Olympic Games. Readers have voiced concerns that the legislation is more about aesthetics than social support. However, the plans to move on rough sleepers could be due to wider economic problems in the country - such as high immigration from struggling neighbour states Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and even people from as far afield as war-torn Somalia, who come to South Africa in search of work, often as illegal street hawkers, unofficial security guards and sex workers. In addition, FIFA itself allegedly publishes rules on host stadiums in a bid to ensure they are smart and presentable. One rule allegedly states that no cranes or building sites should be visible around stadium skylines during the World Cup. Critics of the plans have likened the city move-ons to apartheid era policy, when local black residents were prevented from entering white-only districts of towns and cities. However, the Johannesburg displaced people's unit has defended the proposals, claiming they were aimed at restoring "the dignity of the homeless".
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