Giving back to the community

Johan Appels from the City Of Cape Towns social development department and Carol Mentor, chairperson of the Mitchells Plain Local Network of Care at their monthly stakeholders meeting.

Carol Mentor, Beacon Valley

I am a 70-year-old community worker in Beacon Valley. I worked in the leather industry for 45 years until my retirement in 2009.

I come from an underprivileged background and I started working at the age of 15 at Jordan Shoes in 1964 as a table hand at a rate of just over R5 (2 pounds) a week.

My involvement in the working class struggle started at a young age, and I have no regrets about that. I was elected as a shop steward in 1970 and served two terms as chairperson of the Shop Steward Council of Cape Town.

On retirement it was sad to leave my work colleagues, union members, and friends, but I couldn’t just do nothing, so I started giving back to my community

In 1999 my whole life changed. My first granddaughter Chantine was gunned down in front of my house, while playing in the driveway, Simonéh de Bruin covered the horrific event as a young journalist. It was great that our paths crossed.

My sons experimented with drugs and later met up with Dr Robert Rapiti, attending his “4 Steps Programme” and started support groups in the community. I also started a street committee and became chairperson on the Community police forum sub-forum, some of it covered by the Plainsman.