Table Mountain from Primrose Park, Manenberg.
Manenberg was established as a ‘Coloured township’ following the 1960s & 1970s Group Areas Act forced removals from District Six and other ‘white’, formerly multi-racial, parts of Cape Town. Situated 15 kilometres from Cape Town’s city center, Manenberg is isolated from adjacent black and coloured townships by means of highways, railway lines and buffer strips. South Africa’s apartheid planners conceived their ‘master’ plans and urban designs to 'create social order and racial harmony' by means of ‘proper’ zoning of land use and the segregation of different social groups. Instead, they created a Frankenstein which remains firmly intact in the new South Africa. Black and coloured working classes remain trapped in crime infested ghettoes of high unemployment and extreme poverty, located at a considerable distance from middle-class (mostly white) centres of commerce, tourism and consumption. Living conditions are appalling, so most social life happens on the street; people have little or no privacy.
Manenberg, is known for its almost daily violence and gang killings. Drug trafficking, alcohol sales, gun-running, taxis and sex work are the major sources of revenue of the area. With its extremely high levels of unemployment and poverty, Manenberg has become a ripe recruiting ground for druglords, ‘merchants’ and
hitmen. I thought I knew what alienation meant until I went to Manenberg.