Two robbers, posing as census workers, held up two men in Kensington, Johannesburg, on the first day of the national census, according to a report on Tuesday.
Two robbers, posing as census workers, held up two men in Kensington, Johannesburg, on the first day of the national census, according to a report on Tuesday.

Census 2011 off to good start

Time of article published Oct 10, 2011

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SIMONE SAMUELS

Census 2011 is here and the mass operation of counting every person within South Africa’s borders began at midnight on Sunday.

Enumerators counted homeless people, those in institutions and those who had been travelling.

While most South Africans were asleep, some of the 120 000 enumerators completed the first stage of accounting for the population, targeting airports, truck stops, bed and breakfasts, hostels, hospitals and homeless people.

Statistical support and informatics manager Helen North said October 9 was chosen as a reference night to ensure that the count was as accurate as possible.

The Daily News accompanied 21 enumerators to a truck stop in Mariannhill and got a first-hand account of their experiences.

Enumerator Sanele Nkontwana said he was pleasantly surprised by the reception from the public.

“People are well aware of who we are and this is a good indication that Census 2011 has been widely publicised.

“It makes our jobs easier because people are willing to co-operate.”

Even truck drivers who were woken up to complete the questionnaire were happy to oblige, Nkontwana said.

District census co-ordinator for Pinetown, Zandile Dlala, said the process was running smoothly, and despite the unpleasant hours, drivers responded positively to the enumerators.

Uniforms

Dlala said the drivers were wary when enumerators knocked on their doors, assuming they were “ladies of the night”, but co-operated when they saw their uniforms and the questionnaires.

She said the local ladies were equally accommodating when enumerators identified themselves.

They were, however, not welcoming of the media and dispersed when approached for comment.

North said suspicion of the process was a common problem with many participants and that police presence resulted in many avoiding being counted. She said police presence was requested to ensure their safety in some areas, but police needed to be discreet and not alarm people such as prostitutes, illegal immigrants and the homeless.

North said often there are two extremes of people, those who are eager to participate and those who flat out refuse to co-operate.

She said it was important to understand that the census is a method of gathering reliable information about the country’s population.

The residential count began today and people can expect a enumerator to knock on their door during the next 11 days.

North said October 9 would continue to serve as a point of reference throughout the census, and babies born before midnight were counted. Babies born after midnight would not be counted.

Similarly, any person who dies after October 9 must be included in the count as the census is a “snapshot of who was in the country on the night of the 9th”, North said.

Your Census questions answered: Page 11

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