SHAFAQNA -Â Hundreds of thousands of people are living below the poverty line in shanty towns in Cape Town,Â South Africaâ€™s capital.
Even at the heart of the city, shanty houses can be seen all around.Â Under fancy buildings, the homeless lay unnoticed and uncared for.
John Swartz has lived in a shanty house for 31 years in Tana Baru Cemetery, the oldest graveyard for Cape Town Muslims located in the capitalâ€™s Bo Kaap area.
The historic area has become a tourist destination nowadays due to its cultural significance.
It is the burial site of many of Islamâ€™s pioneers in Cape Town, including Tuan Guru and Ottoman scholar Abu Bakr Effendi, among others.
At the tender age of six, John was sent to a foster home. He came out with nothing to help him survive. It was then when he found the cemetery.
â€œMy father died when I was six and my mom did not want me,â€ John recalled.Â â€œShe chased me away.â€
He has been looking after the graveyard ever since he first came to the cemetery, building a house and making a life there.
Living with his wife and two kids in aÂ tiny, cramped, and run-down shack no larger than four square feet, John is trying to make a better life, but to no avail.
Feeling helpless, John tried to find the proper words.
â€œI feel really bad,â€ John said helplessly. â€œI have lived like this for years.â€
â€œI say to myself: â€˜You have to sacrifice yourself for your wife and children,â€™ but to stay like this? I am suffering,â€ he said.
For decades, he has been theÂ caretaker of the cemetery but no one is aware of his difficult conditions.
â€œWe donâ€™t have a toilet or even running water. We use buckets to relieve ourselves. This is a very hard life,â€ Sarie, Johnâ€™s wife, told Anadolu Agency.
She said that people around them helped with food and school fees for their children.
John said people gave them bread and chicken skins. â€œWe collect chicken skins to make oil for food,â€ he said.
Regarding the two children, aged five and 10, he said they attend school, and understand the hardships of life.
Cape Town, a city of 3.75 million people, is dotted with slums such as Khayelitsha where more than half a million people live belowÂ the poverty line and struggle to afford clean water and electricity.
Lusanda lives in a shack in Khayelitshaâ€™s suburb of Zweltisha.
â€œNobody is employed in our house,â€ she said. â€œI travel into town looking for work and knock on doors for old clothes or something to eat.â€