Letter: Fencing off hostels is no consolation to South Africa's township women

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The Independent Online
IT IS NO consolation to the residents of South African townships, especially women, that the hostels are to be fenced off as part of the ANC/De Klerk interim deal. ('De Klerk and Mandela map way to peace', 27 September.)

Hostels have always represented a constant menace. Housing men in men-only institutions shows white capital's cynical indifference to the welfare of black communities. The threat from these hostels has produced an extensive no-go area around them, requiring detours of several miles for women living and working in the townships. Particular examples are Dube Hostel near Johannesburg and Dobsonville Hostel near Roodepoort. Inmates have been harassing, abducting and raping women since the hostels were built in the 1950s.

This short-sighted proposal of 'fencing off' the hostels preserves the migrant labour system and serves the interest only of those who benefit from the extremely low wages earned by migrants.

If the rapid dismantling of these hostels proves difficult, I, as a former resident of Soweto, suggest the hostels be moved to the white suburbs so the classes who benefit from them can enjoy them as neighbours.

S Mafereka

Leicester

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