- Cape coloured activist Naeem Mallick is on a mission to change global perceptions about life on the Cape Flats.
- Mallick embarked on a quest to change mindsets after watching a documentary No-Go Zones: The World's Toughest Places which listed Rocklands, Mitchells Plain as one of the most "dangerous places in the world".
- Mallick stresses that foreign filmmakers are not telling the whole truth.
Activist Naeem Mallick has been living in Rocklands, Mitchells Plain his entire life and although he openly admits that the suburb is plagued by gangsterism and crime, he wants to change perceptions about the area and the entire Cape Flats.
Mallick is on a mission to get others to see, through his eyes, the beauty of the Cape Flats and Mitchells Plain in particular.
For years, he says, the Cape Flats has been known as a "danger zone" where people are killed or injured in gang warfare. But, as a resident of the area, he doesn't fear living in Mitchells Plain.
Mallick, 34, was upset by the documentary No-Go Zones: The World's Toughest Places because Rocklands was listed as one of the most "dangerous places in the world". But he says this is simply not the case.
The documentary, which gives an account of a day in the life of a "gangster" in Rocklands, was produced in Germany by Quintus Media.
"There isn't ongoing shooting happening 24/7 in this area and we don't have gangs recruiting young people into a life of crime. Yes, there are gangs, but if the youth want to become gangsters, they approach the gangs. The gangs don't approach them," said Mallick.
Mallick said he found the documentary, which is being sold on Amazon, and uploaded it to his YouTube channel.
He wanted to show people how it portrays Rocklands and captioned the video: "What you see is bloodthirsty monsters (which is true to an extent), what I see is ordinary people whose lives were shaped to rebel, living for anarchy and lawlessness, life on the edge because of dysfunctional families, poverty, poor mindsets, absent parents and no heroes. A product of an evil regime."
YouTube removed it from his channel a month later because it violated copyright laws.
"The video portrays my area as extremely dangerous; it is advertising that nobody should come into the area because it is riddled with gangs, drugs, and prostitution. It upsets me that they think so low of the coloured community," he said.
After seeing international filmmakers label his community as "one of the most dangerous places in the world", Mallick is on a mission, to tell the truth.
"[The] No-Go Zones documentary has damaged the area's reputation," he said.
He says people across the world look at the Cape Flats as a red zone just because many filmmakers perceive "colouredness" as something that is associated with gangs and crime.
Mallick, who works in customer care at a call centre, is in the process of filming his own documentary about his community.
"I have lots of footage of sport and recreation, kids playing sports in the dust. I have spoken to gangsters to get their opinion on things, and I will be narrating the history of our community," he added.
He said he also planned to highlight aspects of the colourful minstrels that roam the streets of the suburb, spreading joy and festivity wherever they go.
"I'm hoping that this documentary can change the mindsets of our people and let them know there is so much more than just crime on the Cape Flats. There are people who make a living, raise their kids, there are people who love and live here," he added.
The activist said he sees talented sports people, entertainers, God-fearing people, educated people and leaders in the area, and that filmmakers are not portraying this.
"It is easier to fool someone than it is to convince them that they are being fooled as a result of the influence that mainstream media has over our youth," he added.
Mallick said he would revisit all the so-called dangerous people and places listed in the No-Go Zone documentary, to see and hear the truth for himself.
The self-proclaimed "forced activist" will no longer sit back and watch filmmakers use the Cape Flats area to belittle the coloured community.
"Some of the best lawyers, doctors, teachers, politicians, actresses all come out of the Cape Flats area, yet no one is making documentaries about the successes of coloured people," he said,
Mallick pointed out that he had never been attracted to the gang lifestyle but was stabbed last year after a gangster in Rocklands attempted to rob him.
Today he still has the scars but maintains that he doesn't want to live anywhere else.
"Some of the best people you'll find in SA are coloured people, and the stigma around the Cape Flats people is just not true."
He plans to release his documentary by the end of this month to set the record straight about life on the Cape Flats.
"I will release my documentary on my YouTube channel to show the world the 'unseen' good, bad, and great stories within the Mitchells Plain area," he said.