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Berenice’s story:the Cape Flats tragedy

By Jane Folodi

Cape Town is the city of dreams to the aspiring millennial.

It’s the city you run to, to create your empire, to find the love of your life and to finally discover who you really are amongst the wolves, the anti heroes and the angels.

I’m eluding to Table mountain with its ethereal draping of clouds…

View from atop of Table Mountain, Cape Town!

A post shared by Jeremy McClanahan (@jeremymmcclanahan) on

… golden beaches with aesthetically pleasing patrons and bountiful vineyards that are simply an ode to Dionysus – are a plenty.

But this is not a tale for the faint hearted, so don’t read further if you can’t handle the truth.

Cape Town, as are most parts of the world, is only comfortable for those who are able to afford it.

It’s accommodating to those who can pay a pretty penny to stay in a reasonably safe area, and send their kids to schools with packed lunch and an extra R50 in their pockets.

Cape Town is really quite pleasant if you’ve got money.

There are different worlds within Cape Town and the world I’m presenting to you has a gritty reality. Its the Cape Flats and it’s not for the faint hearted.

The Cape Flats covers areas such as Athlone, Belhar, Bonteheuwel, Elsies River, Khayelitsha and Manenberg.

These areas are host to groups of hardened *skollies. Gunshots have become the new  distortion that the community dances to each day.

No individual is safe on the streets of the Cape Flats when gang wars erupt. If you’re caught in the crossfire, you will not be spared.

A police source said there have been three fatal shootings as a result of gang violence in Hanover Park in March alone.

The source added that the current situation was mainly due to retaliation taking place between rival gangs.

Craven Engel,  The chief executive of the First Community Resource Centre in Hanover Park and Coordinator of Operation Ceasefire pilot project, said the situation is “terrible”.

“People are frustrated, they feel failed by law institutions.”

One of the major concerns, he explained, was that the suspects found with guns are arrested and then released.

Berenice Adams is a young woman who found herself in a tragic situation and paid a dear price for the reality she is forced to relate to.

TYI believes that her story needs to be told and in an attempt to not compromise her voice and her story, Berenice has decided to share her written account with us and to our readers.

Berenice Adams writes about her experience in the Cape Flats…

“As a young girl I’ve had several role models, but life in the Cape Flats never actually allowed me to follow my dreams.

I’ve always seen myself as a lady but it seems life is always gotten the better of me.

In our community growing up as kids, we were not allowed to be kids.

It’s tough growing up in our community because of violence, poverty and the lack of unity.

Kids who grow up together are fighting against each other over territory that doesn’t belong to them.

On the 1st of  August 2014, at around 21:45 I arrived at home from a Youth session. My mom wasn’t at home, only my daddy and because my daddy was drunk, I didn’t want to stay at home in his company.

I went to my friends in the park to hang out with them, not knowing what’s going to happen. When I got to them we were talking about an airplane coming down on us and what will we do if it came down and which direction we would run to avoid any harm.

It was almost like we knew something wrong was going to happen.

A  few minutes after that talk I was a little thirsty of all the talk and laughter, so I went to the shop and I went to buy a cool drink and some sweets.

When I returned I saw that Touriq was still standing there and it was late already, so I told him he must go home because it’s late and he said to me he wants a little cool drink and a R2 and then he will going home.

I said okay but I’m first going to let everyone drink a little cooldrink, then he can have the rest.

Just as I wanted to give him the drink, I hear this loud sound in my ear and I turn around to look and see what that sound is.

I just saw bright lights shining and that sound expanding and it didn’t just come from one person but from six or seven people and that’s when I realised that they were shooting, but not on us but what I didn’t realise is that they about to turn their guns to us.

And when the turn their guns to us, I started running and as I’m running I have Touriq’s hand and my hand.

As we take the corner I let go off of his hand and lift  his uncle off from the ground because he fell.

When he was up, I took the corner and that’s when I felt something is wrong in my body.

I thought it was my foot or something, but I just ran on and I got my two cousins in the yard across the park.

My sister lived there in the yard but there was like three other doors in that yard, but it was all locked. When we got to my sister’s door is was open and we went in.

I asked my cousin if I’m shot, he told me he didn’t know but as I lifted myself up so that he can see, he said nothing and just walked up and down in front of me and said nothing.

He went in and told my sister that I was shot and as he went in, I put my hands to my back and  just felt warmth and blood. Both my hands were red with blood.

I went into shock mode. I couldn’t say anything.

Everything was just blank but I could hear everything around me.

I heard everybody shouting and crying and talking, it was just a very tough moment for me.

When my mom arrived I didn’t know what to do nor did she.

She just looked at me and walked up and down past me. When my transport arrived, I got in the bakkie, my mother got in with me and that’s when I started to talk and all that came out of my mouth was: Why me? What did I do wrong for this to happen to me?

When I saw the doctor and took an X-ray and found out that the bullet was only one centimetre away from my spine.

Today I always tell the younger kids not to walk late outside to always be careful where they are and not to talk to strangers and to listen to their parents and follow their hearts.

My advice to the young people in the Cape Flats is follow your dream no matter your circumstances.

You should try to get over what is keeping you down and try and fight the temptation no matter how huge it is.

Always focus on yourself and your education because you only live once. You never know when something can happen to you and don’t wait till something happens to you because you might not make it.

Live for now. Follow your dreams now. Don’t wait for tomorrow because tomorrow might not come.

My dream is giving back to the community so I would like to be a English teacher and teach at the school I attended because most of our community kids attend Fairmount High.

So I would like to teach there even though it’s just for a few years. As I long as I know and I can make a difference in helping others.

So that’s my life and what I went through.


*skollies – gangsters

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-Jane Folodi

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