From the evergreen Drakensberg to the rolling hills of the Eastern Cape and the sparse hinterland of the Karoo, the beauty of SA captures tourists like a piece of Thabo Mbeki prose. There is one thing that can’t be escaped in travels around the nation: the gut-wrenching, uncomfortable poverty. If you travel by air, looking at the poverty from the small window of a plane might almost be an academic exercise. But apartheid’s spatial planning cannot be disguised. The size and scale of townships and informal settlements are a stark reminder of how divided we are. When taking to the road, poverty is never more than a few metres away, whether it is the face peering at you from the back of a bakkie or the lonely souls walking from one part of nowhere to any part of anywhere. There is a constant appeal to us passing in air-conditioned comfort to take them with, to take them to a better place. A train journey across SA is a brutal assault on a padkos-fattened consciousness. Taking the Prasa-...

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