About Khayelitsha and Mfuleni

KHAYELITSHA is a partially informal township in the Western Cape, South Africa, located on the Cape Flats in the City of Cape Town. The name is Xhosa for New Home. It is reputed to be the largest and fastest growing township in South Africa. Plans to build Khayelitsha were first announced in 1983. By 1985 the suburb Site C had 30,000 people. Khayelitsha was one of the apartheid regime’s final attempts to enforce the Group Areas Act and was seen as the solution to two problems: the rapidly growing number of migrants from the Eastern Cape, and overcrowding in other Cape Town townships.

Discrimination and black population control by the apartheid government did not prevent blacks from settling in the outskirts of Cape Town. After the scrapping of pass laws in 1987 many blacks, mainly Xhosas, moved into Khayelitsha in search of work. 

Today Khayelitsha has an estimated population of 1 000 000. The ethnic makeup of Khayelitsha is approximately 90.5% Black African, 8.5% Coloured and 0.5% White, with Xhosa being the predominant language of the residents. Khayelitsha has a very young population with fewer than 7% of its residents being over 50 years old and over 40% of its residents being under 19 years of age.  Residents in Khayelitsha are rural to urban migrants, most coming from the Eastern Cape.  

Khayelitsha is one of the poorest areas of Cape Town with a median average income per family of R20, 000 a year compared to the City median of R40, 000. Roughly over half of the households live in informal dwellings. Around 53% of Khayelitsha’s total working age population is employed. The five most common forms of employment are domestic work (19.4%), service work (15.2%), skilled manual labour (15.2%), unskilled manual labour (11%), and security services (10.4%). Eighty-nine per cent of households in Khayelitsha are moderately or severely food insecure. The 2001 census recorded that two in three residents live in shacks. By 2011 the number of people living in formal housing had increased to almost half due to the construction of roughly 25,000 new houses being built between 2001 and 2011


MFULENI is a relatively new township about 40 kilometres from Cape Town, South Africa. It is a predominantly Black township, although there are also some Coloured members of the community.

Mfuleni is a suburb of the Blue Downs area and is close to the sprawling township of Khayelitsha and also next to the new suburb of Malibu. Around 52,300 people live in this township. Most were moved there from the late 1990s following flooding and fires in different townships across the Western Cape, such as Philippi, Nyanga and Khayelitsha. Hence, the mixed nature of the community here. Unemployment, HIV/AIDS and crime are some of the most pressing problems in this poor township.

Recently, the Department of Local Government and Housing with its partners established a new housing project which built an additional 165 houses.

Only 43% of Mfuleni residents are employed.




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