Dean Lewins: A Township called Alex
Alexandra, or ‘Alex’ as it is commonly known, is the oldest and one of the poorest townships in the Gauteng Province, South Africa.
Situated only 3 klms from Sandton, the financial heart of Johannesburg and bordering the industrial area of Wynberg and the Limbro Business Park. The almost complete lack of infrastructure makes living conditions extremely difficult. Crime is rampant, violence, building speculation and the absence of rent regulation are all problems that have afflicted Alexandra for many decades.
Official estimates put the population at 350,000 people, unofficial estimates put it at 700,000 people living in an area of less than 8 square kilometres.
Whilst efforts are underway to develop Alexandra and lift the living conditions of its residents, in Old Alexandra, the poorest and most densely populated area residents mainly live in informal dwellings, makeshift shacks made from what ever can be found, or dormitory style hostels.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela lived in Alexandra for 3 years in the early 1940’s.
© 2008 Dean Lewins