New IRIN film: Land of Dust
JOHANNESBURG, 15 May 2014 (IRIN) - "We're not celebrating anything" two decades after the end of apartheid, said Shawn Yanta. "Only the rich are celebrating. The working class are still struggling to get on with living."
Yanta lives in Stofland in the Hex River Valley of South Africa's Western Cape. The dawn of democracy in 1994 delivered a boost to this region's table grape industry, as it brought an end to international boycotts of South African produce.
The Western Cape produces more than 80 percent of the country's table grapes and the Berg and Hex River Valleys are the country's primary production areas. Table grapes are among the world's most traded fruits and the prevailing climatic conditions in these valleys provide an unusually long eight-month window for production.
But that revenue does not translate into the betterment of the lives of the fruit pickers, who are trapped in poverty and neglected by the government and social services.
IRIN's latest film, Land of Dust
, looks at the conditions of the workers in the Hex River Valley, where long hours, low wages, poor health and education opportunities, are the rewards of farm employment. Conditions which have changed little since the end of apartheid.