When you type "squatter camps in South Africa" into Google's search box and click on the images tab, pictures which feature most prominently show white South Africans in informal settlement.
Let's catapult you back to the days of the apartheid, back to the squalid conditions that black people were forced in. Now we are in the present, and still, black people live in squatter camps. But there is another story which most people are not aware of: The white squatter camps.
The image that most people have when poverty in South Africa is talked of is obviously how blacks populate the squatter camps, the abject poverty leaving them with no choice except to erect shacks that lack basic amenities like electricity, water and sewerage systems. But poverty in South Africa is not only confined to black people. There is a world in South Africa where white people also suffer from dire poverty. But the position taken with Google Images is a bit problematic.
We just made a search of squatter camps and the world where white people also live in these squatter camps showed, in a way, how deeply problematic society is still is. Blacks and whites in poverty. But of course the vast white monopoly on capital and resources in South Africa creates another story altogether.
The results for Google Search when you search for "squatter camps in South Africa" seem to mainly focus on the white squatter camps. When you type the phrase into Google's search box and click on the images tab, pictures which feature most prominently show white South Africans in informal settlements.
However people questioned why the results section is not showing black South Africans who live in informal settlements. Propaganda, or what?
"Comrades please Google "Squatter camps or skwatta camps in South Africa" Google will give you results showing white skwatta camps where white people live. As an outsider you would swear there is no black suffering in SA. This is sick. Imperialism doing the most to stop land return," said one user on Twitter.
This phenomena can still be traced to apartheid. The post-apartheid era created problems for the Afrikaners who were emblazoned with entitlement in every part of them. Life became tough and opportunities eluded them. It is believed that across South Africa, the number of white people living in squatter camps is at around 400 000.
Because living in squatter camps means that there is no access to electricity and water, it is very hard to claim welfare from the authorities. Residents evade the law by building flimsy shelters with no foundations, as the government intervenes when permanent structures are built. Homes range from wooden sheds to metal shacks built from boards of iron – structures typically have bare earth floors and frequent flooding washes away the topsoil and leaves decades-old waste exposed.
With the issue of black advancement being one of the top priorities of the post-apartheid era, most Afrikaners found themselves pushed out.
An article on HuffPost South Africa said, "The prominence of white 'squatters' on Google's search stands in stark contrast to the millions of black South Africans who live in such conditions."
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