A place called the Cape Flats

Clive Sauls, Searidge Park

Where is this place called the Cape Flats? What is this place? Who created this place?

I live in Mitchell’s Plain, a place on the outskirts of the so-called “Cape Flats”. When you travel by train there are the Cape Flats, Suburban or Southern Suburbs, Central, and Northern Suburbs lines.

When certain things happen in areas like Parklands in Table View, for example, the place is not labelled as the “Cape Flats”.

Where is this place, on the “Cape Flats” or on the West Coast?

When I think about this name Cape Flats, I try to analyse. Is it a place in Cape Town with all these buildings called flats? Yet, when you take the Cape Flats and Parklands, both places are in or part of the Western Cape, but so different, why? Is it because of a certain class of people staying there?

On the other hand, though, it has become a multiracial area. So, what is the difference? Why are they not part of the “Cape Flats”.

For ten years I was in and out of Table View or Parklands, but never did I experience what I experience in my area. Here on the “Cape Flats” it has become a norm to use the “F” word.

I did not experience such language not even the mention of “jou ma se p…” at the three different schools I worked at.

From early morning till late in the day, even in the shops I experienced some differences.

I would make sure at any time when I travelled to Parklands that I have money with me just to buy food and meat, which is different in the shops (same shops) in my community.

Then there there are the “gangs”.

Again, I never saw a gang or a person belonging to a gang in the time I was in Parklands or Table View.

In my area, yes and why? In these affluent areas drugs are being confiscated, but there seems to be some order.

When you look at places like Parklands, Claremont, Bishopscourt and Wynberg, just to mention a few, these places are not labelled as “Cape Flats” when something crime- or gang-related happens.

But when it comes to places like Mitchell’s Plain, Bishop Lavis, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Lavender Hill, and Ocean View, they are labelled “Cape Flats”, yet all these places are part of the Western Cape province.

In my area there are youngsters throwing stones, yet in the so-called upmarket areas I do not experience this kind of behaviour.

They are not even scared of the police.

In my days of growing up in Elsies River, gangsters had respect for police officers. That was in the Apartheid time and now in the democracy what seems to be the difference?

Is this all because of a place called the “Cape Flats” that was created? But then, all these places mentioned here are a few minutes not even hours’ drive apart from each other, yet so different.

So, what can be done about this place called “Cape Flats”? Either we “burn” it down or “rebuild” it.

“Burn” – all politicians and media to stop using and do away with the name.

“Rebuild” – we all need to make a stand and commit to make a change. A change that starts with me.

After all, we are called Capetonians living in the Western Cape and the “Cape Flats”?

There is no such place just a name in the air.