Mining towns have toddler boom

2012-11-03 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s toddler population is booming, with growth of 20% in the under-fours in Msunduzi and eThekwini. However, this is nothing compared with the 90% explosion in the border town of Musina.

eThekwini’s under-fours grew 20% to 327 972, the same rate as Msunduzi where the population of tiny tots increased to 58 178.

Musina’s population of four-and-unders grew by almost 90%, from 4 606 in 2001 to 8 739 last year.

In Bitou, Eastern Cape, the increase was almost 80%, from 2 582 in 2001 to 4 641 last year. In Kouga it grew 77%, from 5 860 to 10 366.

In the major cities, Johannesburg saw a 37% increase in children aged four and under rising to 432 722. Tshwane increased 61% to 273 866.

Nelson Mandela Metro’s young children rocketed nearly 43% to 110 406 while Mangaung increased 34% to 75 348.

An interesting trend that emerged was the prodigious growth in numbers of young children in mining towns.

In Gamagara municipality, where mining around the town Kathu increased in recent years, the number of children under four was up 73%. In the platinum mining towns of Madibeng and Rustenburg, under-fours were up 67% and 66% respectively.

Northern Cape DA leader Andrew Louw ascribed the dramatic population boom in Kathu to mining.

“The growth in mining activities has caused many young families to move here and new children to be born. If you look at the type of people a mine attracts — young academics, engineers, doctors and the like — it is to be expected that the population of children would grow,” he said.

Unisa health studies lecturer Debbie Hadebi said the growth in the child population “is placing a lot of pressure on services in both the clinics and hospitals. There are shortages of staff and medications, especially the immunisations for the under-fours.”

• investigations@media24.com

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