A group of Mitchells Plain youngsters is taking back their streets and parks after learning that their area is labelled a “no-go zone” in an international documentary.
An episode from No-Go Zones: The World’s Toughest Places documents a day in the life of a gangster in Rocklands.
The episode titled Ghost Town follows members of the Ugly Americans gang and was first aired in 2019.
It recently resurfaced on YouTube, where user BiGgLeŽ W0rTh wrote: “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 as a result of dysfunctional families, poverty, poor mindsets, absent parents and no heroes. A product of an evil regime.”
Now the Stratus Youth Project, founded by Nafeesa Abrahams, 26, is trying to change the narrative by beautifying the community.
The project assists 15 children, aged seven to 16 years, with daily programmes and activities run by residents who act as life coaches.
Besides their weekly street clean-ups, the youth have now embarked on a mission to “clean up their act” by removing all gang tjappies in their community and repainting the walls.
Nafeesa says: “I started the Stratus Youth Project in the Rocklands community as I saw the need to keep the youth occupied and to make them feel good about themselves and their community.
“Currently there's a stigma attached to Rocklands because of a documentary that's been doing the rounds, and Stratus Youth is in the area called ‘Ghost Town’.
“In this particular area we have many decent and God-fearing people. People are also challenged with unemployment, drugs, gangsterism and so on.
“Our aim is to create a safe and clean environment of which our children can be proud, hence the fact we do our clean-up operations on a regular basis. Removing the graffiti from the walls is what we focus on most.”
Besides cleaning, the kids also play cricket and soccer, do exercises, dance and get help with homework.
They are appealing for donations to sustain their upliftment project, including paint, paint brushes, educational toys, stationery, clothing, sporting equipment and food items.”
If you would like to assist, please call Nafeesa on 076 750 0913.