Guest Column

Cape Flats lives matter too!

2017-05-05 08:00

Moeshfieka Botha

I recently visited a street block in Hanover Park, where within the space of 12 hours, 3 dead bodies laid sprawling on the pavement. Yet this was not covered by any media. No politicians came to pay their respects – because these were once again simply young men from the Cape Flats who were killed in gang-related shootings. Their lives meant little when they were alive – it now means absolutely nothing when they are dead.

And sadly, it is not only the outside world that attributes no value to Cape Flats lives, residents don’t either. They have become numb to death. It’s just another shooting, another body, another day. When speaking to people of the area, I heard one of the most bone- chilling comments ever: “Wanneer hulle uiteindelik die lyke van die pavement kom afhaal – dan spoel ons maar net die bloed weg met ’n bietjie water. Die lewe gaan aan.”

The young men killed in violence on the Cape Flats lose more than just their lives. They lose their identity and their value. We don’t draw media and political attention to their deaths because they are seemingly just a statistic. But guess what, they are not!

That dead body lying in a pool of blood on the pavement, on a road with no name was someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s father. Though the world attaches no value to him – someone would have loved him enough to grieve. This dead body is the source of pain, trauma and grief to someone. This dead body mattered, because Cape Flats lives matter too.

Overwhelming oppression and genocide is taking place on the Cape Flats. Drugs and gangsterism is wiping out an entire generation of our people. Should you disagree with these statements, I suggest you climb down out of your ivory tower and come and see for yourself. For right now when you speak of the Cape Flats’ problems, or even more arrogantly yet of solutions – from the outside, you speak from a vantage point of pure ignorance.

And it is usually in these times of arrogance and ignorance when politicians nauseatingly put on bullet proof vests and surround themselves with armed body guards and take a stroll through the neighbourhood (Obviously with the cameras and media properly positioned close by.) And it is usually after these publicity stunts that some politician will come up with a grand master plan and solution.

Therein lies the problem. You will never find appropriate solutions for problems which you are not truly familiar with. For you will be viewing the problem from your vantage point of ignorance – and therefore your solution will not be one that fits this particular problem faced by these particular communities.

The MyCiti bus is a true case in point. It worked in South America and some bright spark in ignorance thought that all transport problems were the same – and brought it to our shores (Look at how cost-effective and well that has worked out for us).

In order to find ways to curb this community genocide, you have to listen to the community. I’m not talking about the paid informants and your data researchers. I’m speaking of those who wash the blood off the pavements after the bodies have been removed. Those community members who patrol the streets in the dark of the night. Those mothers who grieve the sons they birthed into this abnormal society.

If you care enough to help the Cape Flats – then listen to the Cape Flats. Hear our voices.

After I emotionally just couldn’t absorb any more, I sat down on the pavement of death (with no bulletproof vest and armed bodyguards) and watched a video I had taken a few months ago. It was the Shoprite Pennsylvanians junior (U18) best band rendition at the minstrel competitions. Watching it, my heart once again filled with pride at the talent of the youth in our community. They have no formal musical education, but they make music with the best of them.

But sadly, I had to ask myself, how many of these talented Cape Flats youngsters on stage will live to see their 21st birthdays – and whose blood will simply be washed off the pavement, without any acknowledgement that their lives mattered too?

As a community we have to get rid of the numbness, dig deep and find our compassion again. We have to ensure that we don’t start becoming so accustomed to death, that we see our dead as statistics.

I encourage those who sincerely want to assist in finding solutions to the overwhelming issues of poverty, drugs, gangsterism and subsequent violence and death on the Cape Flats to step up and unite. Put the ego’s and differences aside, for we are losing this battle.

I will say it till the day I die. I will always be proudly Cape Flats. My Cape Flats community is uniquely awesome! There are so many good people caught in the middle of this war zone. There is so much greatness in the midst of this humanitarian crisis. This community is not a lost cause. But this community needs to be heard. We have to stop this genocide, for our lives matter. Cape Flats lives matter too!

- You can follow Moeshfieka Botha on Twitter: ProudlyCapeFlats@Moeshfieka1975 / and on the Facebook page Proudly Cape Flats.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

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