When arsonists set Mouille Point resident, Peter Wagenaar’s Mini Cooper alight in May this year it was done so to cause destruction, but their spiteful act has done the exact opposite.
It has brought the community together, instead. Wagenaar’s vehicle was set alight in the early hours of Wednesday 6 May in an attempt to stop him and his wife, Lesley, from providing food to homeless people at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This, despite the fact that they had a permit to do so.
Wagenaar says he received backlash from some residents claiming his actions would draw an influx of homeless people to the area.
Wagenaar, who served food from his vehicle, stood hopelessly as he witnessed his car go up in flames. But that did not deter him from continuing his selfless act.
Sunday 15 November marked a new chapter in the life of the charred vehicle. After undergoing a complete makeover, the vehicle was unveiled as a beautiful artwork by, Alicia McFadzean, popularly knows as Cheeky Observer. The unveiling ceremony was held at the Sea Point Promenade.
Wagenaar lauds the support they received from Capetonians. He says while losing their vehicle was a setback, many positive results came from it.
“The Mini meltdown became a beacon of love, light and hope that communities can work together in a crisis. Instead of stopping people from giving, it inspired others who wanted to help through the Covid-19 pandemic. Love always wins.”
Wagenaar says in its new life, the Mini will function as a mobile artwork, a medium for conflict resolution and a vehicle to raise funds for social welfare-enhancing projects.
“We are also going to go to schools, once the pandemic has settled to teach kids and to give them coaching on the fact that you don’t resort to violence when you don’t get your own way, you can learn to agree to disagree in life,” explains Wagenaar.
McFadzean says she heard about Wagenaar’s story on the radio and wanted to do her bit to get involved with the project. She explains that the idea behind her art piece which took her about 46 weeks to complete was to bring the message of love, light, and hope across.
She explains that the beautiful art pieces on the Mini were created with acrylic spray paint and brushes, and on the bonnet. She painted the face of Tiwonge Chimbalanga, a community worker in the area.
“I wanted to create a piece that signifies that love always wins. That is why I used that colour scheme as well.”
Chimbalanga, also known as Aunty Titi, originally from Malawi works with refugees and homeless people in the Cape Town area. She says she is proud that her face was used and feels happy to have been a part of such a good project.