Earth Summit: 'Politicians come, but nothing changes'

A A A

Frank Khuamlo remembers Tony Blair's last visit to Alexandra, Johannesburg's slum suburb, years back. Since then, he says he has become disappointed that many other leaders have visited Alexandra but his life has not changed.

"It's as if our poverty is some form of tourism for them. They come, see, and go but nothing changes," said Mr Khumalo, who is unemployed. "I cannot say this visit will change my life in any way."

Mr Blair would probably have disagreed when he visited the township, a few miles away from Sandton, where the UN Earth Summit is under way. The Prime Minister later told journalists that although there was still serious poverty in Alexandra, the situation had definitely improved since his last visit.

"I remember when I last visited Alexandra, there was a sense of shock. There was tremendous poverty ... But on the other hand, [now] you can see change happening ... Alexandra and South Africa are getting better," he said, adding that the biggest challenge was people's cynicism about the possibility of change. He said: "Look at South Africa, at how change can come about."

Mr Khumalo had not come to Alexandra police station for Mr Blair's visit. He was trying to pay a traffic ticket but was locked out while the VIP visited. He was unenthusiastic about the trip and hoped that no "arms" would be donated.

Alexandra is a haven for crime because of the poverty. Many thieves invaded Sandton at night from the slum. When police chase these criminals, they were ruthless and targeted innocent people, Mr Khumalo said. With more arms, they could even become more "ruthless", he feared.

But Mr Blair did not donate any arms. He visited because the township has been twinned with the London Borough of Southwark since the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir John Stevens, visited last year. The twinning aims to help Alexandra's policetackle domestic violence, youth crime and crime intelligence.

Joel Mtiba, the officer in charge, updated Mr Blair on how his station had benefited and about the huge problems faced in combating violent crime in Alexandra, especially murder, rape and robberies.

The ultimate solution was to alleviate the squalor in Alexandra, Mr Mtiba said, and Mr Blair seemed to agree.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
News
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project