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TRC Final Report

Page Number (Original) 393

Paragraph Numbers 7 to 14

Volume 1

Chapter 12

Subsection 2


7 The Western Cape has a population of 3.6 million people, comprising 8.9 per cent of South Africa’s total population. According to the 1993 census, the population composition is: 58.4 per cent coloured people, 23.7 per cent white people, 17.1 per cent African people and 0.8 per cent ‘Asian’ people. Sixty-eight per cent of the entire population of the province (or 2.5 million people) lives in the Cape Metropolitan Area. By contrast, the West Coast has a population of 235 000.

8 Although the Northern Cape has the largest surface area in the country, only 1.9 per cent of the total South African population (or 764 000 people) live there. The annual population growth rate lies far below the South African average, indicating a steady outflow of people. According to the 1993 census figures, the population composition is: 52 per cent coloured people, 31.3 per cent black people, 16.1 per cent white people and 0.2 per cent Asian people.

Income/poverty profile

9 The Western Cape has the second highest degree of urbanisation (95 per cent) in the country. However, it also has the highest human development index (HDI) in South Africa, meaning that it is marked by extreme social and economic inequalities.

10 There is little heavy industry in the Cape Metropolitan Area, which supports instead light industries such as garment and textile manufacturing and small factory food processing. Over half a million people are employed in the textile industry, which is the largest single employer in the Western Cape. However, the textile industry is currently declining and experiencing job losses. Only 57 per cent of the labour force are engaged in the formal sector; the remainder work in the informal sector or are self- or unemployed.

11 The West Coast is dominated by agriculture, which focuses mainly on the production of wheat, wine and citrus fruit. While white farmers have flourished, African and coloured seasonal farm workers are locked into impoverished dependence, earning an average of forty-seven rand a week. Coastal towns like Saldanha Bay and Lamberts Bay are dominated by the fishing industry and provide 80 per cent of South Africa’s fishing catch. Large national companies have decimated independent fishing communities through the quota system, resulting in wide-scale poverty in the area. The unionisation of the fishing industry in turn led to an intensification of industrial and political conflict.

12 The Karoo is predominantly a sheep farming area. There has, however, been substantial migration of coloured families out of the area and into urban areas, leading to a population decline in Karoo towns.

13 The major city in the Northern Cape is Kimberley. The main economic activities in this area are the mining of diamonds, asbestos and copper and agriculture, mainly cattle and maize. Industrial and commercial activity in the Northern Cape is limited to areas around Kimberley, Kuruman, Sishen and Postmasburg. Migrant labour comes mainly from the former independent homelands of Bophuthatswana, Transkei and Ciskei.


14 The major languages in the Western Cape Province are Afrikaans (the home language for 47 per cent of the population), English (19 per cent) and Xhosa (15 per cent). The main home languages in the Northern Cape are Afrikaans (65 per cent) and Tswana (22 per cent).

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