Viva Mitchell’s Plain

Charlotte Williams, Eastridge

I simply have to add my voice to the topic on Mitchell’s Plain (“Mitchell’s Plain turns 40”, Plainsman, May 4).

I moved into Lentegeur in 1979. I lived there for two years and moved to Atlantis for the next two years. I moved back to Mitchell’s Plain in 1981 and I am still in Eastridge and this is where I will be until I die. I am passionate about this place called Mitchell’s Plain and I am proud to be a resident here. We, the residents survived many challenges and many other awful things that happened here to our community (many of these reported in the Plainsman).

We had evictions in 2001 where families were thrown out of their homes because they could not afford to pay their local municipality. There was no regard for the children or the disabled or the elderly when this was done. We were in the grip of fear when our children were killed off one by one by the Station Strangler.

We had someone who wanted a child so badly that she used a bread knife to get one. We had good men and women who served their community, such as Mervyn Jacobs who was shot and killed because he served on a neighbourhood watch, trying to make his area a safer place. We had people murdered and their bodies dumped in refuse bins.

I can go on and on about all the negative things that happened and is still happening in this place we call Mitchell’s Plain. We are now again living in fear of the constant shootings and killings of young men and sometimes innocent victims. We do not know what to do with our children whom we have raised to be decent young men and women but who are lost in the drugs that are destroying their lives.

These are but a few of the problems and struggles we deal with every day and which newspapers report on. All those bad, ugly things that happen in this place called Mitchell’s Plain. But guess what? I remember the way our communities stood together when a child was molested or killed.

I remember how they would stand in front of the court when the suspect appeared in court. I remember the marches against crime, against abuse and against those who sell drugs.

I remember how many volunteers we have, who sacrifice their lives to make a difference. I remember all those organisations using their portfolios and limited resources who make a difference to the lives of others on a daily basis.

I remember all our seniors joining and starting clubs where they can interact and assist each other. I remember how much talent we have in this place. We have so many who rose above their circumstances and became lawyers, doctors, actors and singers, to name but a few. I can go on and on about this place we live in.

I am basically trying to tell those who are so scared when they hear the name Mitchell’s Plain, whose first words are “is it not dangerous out there”, that I would not want to live anywhere else but here.

I believe that the negative stories we read about are not stopping us from caring and sharing with each other.

We reach out to each other when we have tragedies and when we are struck with heartache and pain. We pull together when needed.

Yes, we were dumped here and we must basically endure all the struggles and suffering, but we have proven over and over that we can stand strong. We support each other. I always longed to go back to where I was born but it feels like I have lived my whole life here.

The good, positive people and what they do far outweigh all the negative stuff we read about. It is but a minority of our community who are actually responsible for all those negative things being done.

I remember when the first residents moved in, it was always a joke if others heard that you lived here. Their comments were “julle eet sand daar” and “julle maak julle teabags droog om weer te gebruik so swaar kry julle”. Well, I dry my teabags because with a little paraffin it makes a great firelighter when you braai!

I hope my contribution will help to make our community realise that what we have is special.

* Charlotte Williams is a former councillor for Ward 79 and was also the first and only woman to serve as chairperson of the Mitchell’s Plain Sub-council (Sub-council 12).