The ‘forgotten’ Mitchell’s Plain

André Page, Westridge

Mitchell’s Plain, along with so many townships on the Cape Flats, have been struggling with drug abuse and gang violence for many years. This, in addition to the burden of load shedding, severe poverty and unemployment, has in combination had a propelling negative effect on communities with crime always on the rise, which increasingly places pressure on law enforcement agencies.

But with all this happening for years on the Cape Flats, our public transport infrastructure has also worsened, and travelling has become more costly as it has forced residents to use taxis and bus services to commute to their places of work and other destinies.

Each day we read and hear about gang violence and shootings and how these gangs literally hold our communities hostage, and because law enforcement agencies are under-resourced and struggling to address situations, we see people selling their properties and leaving because of increasing crime.

These are all compounded by an overwhelmed justice system, random protesting of surrounding informal settlements, taxi wars, gender-based violence, and not forgetting the political affiliation related interventions that cause more harm than good and which is also in violation of the Constitution of South Africa.

But despite all this happening on the Cape Flats for so many years, the focus has shifted to the coloured community of Westbury in Gauteng where there has been a spate of killings and gangs are at war and to gain more drug turf, and as a resident of Mitchell’s Plain I am in full support of the community in Westbury because this is what we experience on the Cape Flats each and every day.

The Thabo Bester saga on the other hand has received so much attention over the past few weeks, and I somehow think that government has lost focus and deploying their energies and resources to a case that places more emphasis on Correctional Services but has no relevance in comparison to impact on communities.

The question I ask myself is where does this place the Cape Flats on the priority list of the three tiers of local, provincial and national government, and how much can we still endure before there is nothing left to fight for?

What I envisage in my small mind and maybe I am asking too much, is that we as residents of Mitchell’s Plain, despite our differences, combine our efforts and work hand in hand with our NGOs and law enforcement to address the scourge of crime and other systemic problems, and once again restore pride to Mitchell’s Plain and take back the little we have left that will ensure a safe environment for our future generations.

This “vision” though requires the support of local authorities, who need to commit and continue supporting the community, by ensuring that proper services are rendered for the creation of a safer environment and deliver on their mandate as they have pledged by oath.