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?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world