In 1958, the small township of Lwandle was established with hostel-type rooms for men who worked at the nearby fruit farms and canning factories. Living conditions for these men, who numbered in the thousands, were appalling. Cramped into confined spaces, the men were often separated from their families for long periods of time, having access to only very basic amenities and rudimentary, substandard ablution facilities.
Conditions worsened in the 1980s when government control of the flow of workers relaxed. Facilities were not upgraded to accommodate the increasing number of workers arriving in the Western Cape and the hostels became even more overcrowded.
The informal settlement of Lwandle lies close to both Somerset West and Gordons Bay and people who live here are employed in the Helderberg Basin, largely within the building industry, although as many as 60% are still unemployed.
Many of those who live here originally came here under the migrant labour system from the Eastern Cape province and most residents still live in shacks whilst the government puts approved housing projects into place.