Where We Work
A brief history of Khayelitsha
The name “Khayelitsha” means “New Home” in Xhosa, the language spoken by the majority of this township’s inhabitants.
Khayelitsha’s history is closely bound with that of apartheid. Throughout the period of white minority rule, a system called “influx control” was used to exclude black Africans from settling in the Western Cape. It had already been designated as a “coloured” (or mixed race) preference area.
Even though this influx control was heavily enforced, thousands of black Africans still managed to settle in and around Cape Town. When the pass laws were scrapped in 1986, Cape Town had a rapid surge of new settlers. This in-migration mainly came from the rural parts of the Eastern Cape. So, in order to ease the pressure on the existing informal settlements, a new settlement was proclaimed on the windswept Cape Flats in 1986: Khayelitsha.
This “new home” was borne out of the conflict of those times. Many of its first residents had fled the fights that had erupted in the informal settlements of Crossroads and KTC. Thousands were made homeless, and many moved to a tented town in what became known as Site C in Khayelitsha.
Site C was replaced with “site and service” plots in 1986 . Each plot had a tap and toilet. The first permanent structures, which were cement-brick starter homes known as “core houses”, were built in Town 1.
As houses went up and “site and service” plots got demarcated, schools too were built. These schools very quickly filled with the children of the ever-increasing people who migrated to the Western Cape. They came here to seek work, and to access what they perceived to be better educational opportunities.
In the 1990s, the Khayelitsha settlement expanded towards the False Bay coast. Large numbers of “site and service” plots and rows of starter homes were built.
The population of Khayelitsha is currently estimated to be just over 500,000. There are now 30 primary schools, five intermediate schools, 20 secondary schools, and three special educational needs schools serving the community.