Poor whites in Parliament spotlight

Cape Town - The fast-growing numbers of poor white South Africans came under the spotlight in the National Assembly on Thursday.

"The increase in white poverty has, according to the (SA) Institute for Race Relations, has been... more than 95%, and you've got more than 430 000 poor whites at this stage," Freedom Front Plus Chief Whip Corne Mulder told the House.

Around Pretoria alone, there were more than 70 informal settlements where whites were residing.

The Bureau for Market Research had indicated there were more than 650 000 whites, 16 years and older, who had no income whatsoever.

Mulder said it was government's contention that there was no distinction made between poor white or black people when it came to getting help, but this did not appear to be what was happening in practice.

"Is the government prepared to investigate this issue because it's becoming more and more serious?" he asked Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Responding, Motlanthe said government strove to attend to the needs of all poor South Africans, regardless of race.

"There is no barrier based on skin colour. What needs to happen is, where these communities are squatting... and they have no access to an income stream... they need to apply for RDP houses... ," he said.

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