Cape Town is taking off its Mother City cloak and taking on the face of an Orphan City
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by Lorenzo A Davids
I was born in November 1961. Six months after my birth I was placed into unofficial foster care. I spent the rest of my childhood in foster care.
I had wonderful parents. I also had wonderful foster parents. But the system I was born into deemed my parents incapable of adequately providing for me and my brother, who arrived three years later. Eighteen years of foster care ensued.
I remember vividly, at about the age of 8, being interviewed by a social worker, who asked me: “Boetie, by wil jy bly?” (Young man, who would you want to stay with?) At that point, I had fallen in love with two sets of parents.
The choice was the hardest one for me to make. Alex and Joan Davids were wonderful parents. Lawrence and Susan October were amazing foster parents. Choosing one over the other caused me incredible anxiety, an anxiety that still affects my mental well-being today.
I had two sets of people who loved me. I did not want to choose between them. One set could not adequately provide for me and had to “give me up”.
The other gave me the safety and care my anxious mind required. But I loved both.
Since the 1930s Cape Town has been called the Mother City. Today, this Mother City is turning legitimate citizens into orphans and criminals because the system, like in 1961, refuses to adequately provide a safety net for its most vulnerable people.
In 2021, the City of Cape Town is taking off its Mother City cloak and is taking on the face of an Orphan City. Two hundred years ago, in 1820, Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities, the sad tale of orphan Oliver Twist who ended up on the streets. Like Oliver, people on the streets are being accused of robbing the wealthy Mr Brownlow.
The City is asking its Mr and Mrs Brownlows to tell it just how bad the people on the streets are.
Like Mr Brownlow, the rich and affluent of this City have a choice: take them to court and push them deeper into the system which orphans them or, also like Mr Brownlow, see that Oliver has the potential, given the chance, to break the negative influence of the system operated by the State, Fagin and Sikes.
The City is enforcing laws that orphans the residents of the Mother City. It is calling on its resourced residents to list offences its homeless residents are committing that only resourced residents can abide by. Where do I urinate or wash myself if the public toilets are locked?
Where do I sleep if I am one of 14 000 homeless people, if there are only 2 400 shelter beds available in the city? Why won’t Vredehoek see me as part of its neighbourhood if I have been sleeping there for over eight years?
The City states that all residents are equal before the law.
No, they are not. One is only equal before the law if one has the resources to comply with the law’s demands, or the resources to prove why my non-compliance with the law is necessary.
If circumstances make it impossible for me to comply with the law, then it’s the circumstances that must be addressed.
In 2021 the City is calling back to life the macabre horrors of the 1820 Dickensian story. The poor are being accused by the resourced classes, and the State is willing to execute the law on behalf of the resourced classes.
It was in the year 2020, 200 years after Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities, that Cape Town finally gave up its noble Mother City signature, and in dark sinister ways, issued a call from its privileged enclaves to orphan its at-risk residents in 2021.
A sad welcome to the Orphan City.
* Lorenzo A Davids.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.
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