A first generation African community grappling with urbanisation: the views of Platfontein’s San on water and sanitation service delivery
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Since their relocation in 2004 to Platfontein near Kimberley in South Africa’s Northern Cape Province, members of the !Xun and Khwe San, originally from the northern parts of Namibia and southern Angola, became a first generation African community grappling with urbanisation in a rapidly modernising South Africa. The Platfontein area, a number of farms with a settlement housing complex accommodating about 7 000 people, is currently an emergent urban area in which residents have the opportunity to lead urban lives. However, the local water supply and sanitation infrastructure is in a bad state. People reside in early RDP houses, which since being handed over by the Department of Housing have not all been provided with proper water, sanitation and electricity. In the article attention is given to the perceptions of the San community of Platfontein on their prospects for the future under current conditions. The focus is on local water and sanitation service delivery provided by the Sol Plaatje Local Municipality. In many respects their views reflect the complex cultural adjustments necessary to live in an urban environment. Water supply and sanitation are services taken for granted in a modern urban setting. The fact that the San community is subject to considerable frustration about poor service delivery in these important services is a root cause of their discontent with the realities of life in an urban environment that does not live up to their expectations.