26 Apr 2010

Slum clearance, South Africa-style

Waving iron bars and pickaxes, the Red Ants, a rented mob of thugs in bright red overalls and crimson helmets, used the half-light of dawn for cover as they marched into the slum. Stamping out the first cooking fires of the day with heavy boots, they spread out in a long line. Then they attacked.


Bleary immigrant women dropped plastic water containers and ran in panic towards their corrugated iron homes. “Grab the children,” they screamed. By sunrise their shacks on the outskirts of Johannesburg had been razed. They were forced to watch as their few possessions were burnt.

The Red Ants, described as state-sponsored mercenaries by their critics, have become a growing force in the past few months as South African cities have begun a campaign of “beautification” before the World Cup begins in June. This means clearing away unsightly immigrant squatter camps.

More on Times Online

More stunning SA-pics  by Halden Krog here

Those bullish red ants! - Urban Joburg thinks that the name 'Red Ants' is likely to strike fear into any inner-city dweller, particularly those who, due perhaps to circumstances beyond their control, have taken to squatting illegally in apartment blocks that have been hijacked by unscrupulous landlords.  (Urban Joburg)


After the Red Ants apparently beat a man to death, for trying to stop them assaulting his wife during an eviction, the illegal residents of Edenpark went on the rampage. They really wanted to attack the Red-Ants, the crowd consisted mostly of older woman, rough young girls, some really young drunk looking boys and a lot of really drunk looking men, but I'll tell you, the Red-Ants were lucky the cops were there, these people were so wound up that they wanted to tear the Red-Ants apart... and to tell the truth, I reckon they would have done it quite easily. (Neil McCartney)