Yethu Dlamini.
I’ve heard all the stories about the smelly township of Alexandra, its huge rats, and high crime levels but I was never told about its overcrowding and shocking filth.

The first time I set my foot there I thought I was at the wrong side of the world. In a taxi from home in Soshanguve, Tshwane, I asked the driver twice if he was sure I was getting off at the correct place. Unfortunately I was at the right place and as I walked to catch a local taxi to where I was going, Tsutsumani, I had to cover my nose and mouth so I wouldn’t have to breathe the “Alexandra air”.

As we drove around the township, I was shocked to see shacks on the road, on sidewalks, so close to each other and on top of each other. Sewage flew along the streets and probably inside the shacks. The washing lines were erected on the road and kids playing on the road sometimes forced car drivers to take evasive action.

Others jumped over electricity wires that were left exposed on the road.

On each and every corner of the streets were young boys and girls puffing cigarettes. Fast food outlets had sewage running on their door steps.

However, what surprised me the most was that residents seemed not to care less.

They just walked over a pile of rubbish, opened their windows to the polluted air, cooked as they chased rats and used dirty communal bucket toilets on the streets as others were sitting and dining at a nearby informal eatery.

For them, life was moving on but, for me, I disembarked from the taxi, bought pills and rushed to take a shower.

My whole body was itchy.

I’m still shocked that a place so close to Joburg and the leafy Sandton can be in such a state.

Yethu Dlamini is an intern at The Star.

@yethudlamini