Withoutout safe spaces to play, whether it’s lockdown or not, children in Wallacdene, Kraaifontein, entertain themselves by doing flips on a sandy patch next to communal toilets.  Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)
Withoutout safe spaces to play, whether it’s lockdown or not, children in Wallacdene, Kraaifontein, entertain themselves by doing flips on a sandy patch next to communal toilets. Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

PICTURE ESSAY: How Cape Flats children are coping with lockdown

By Phando Jikelo Time of article published May 14, 2020

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Cape Town – The large number of children roaming the streets in our townships and on the Cape Flats paints a worrying picture.

For some of them, the Covid-19 lockdown presents an opportunity to play with friends and use this period as a “school holiday”.

They have not been at school for nearly two months and it remains unclear when they will be behind a desk once again.

Life in places such as Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Mitchells Plain and Manenberg continues the way it was before the announcement of the lockdown.

Children in Crossroads play with their go-karts to keep themselves entertained. Picture: Phando Jikelo / African News Agency (ANA)

Some children in these areas do not know what this period means or how it might impact on their future.

There are still groups of kids playing soccer along the N2, from Khayelitsha to Nyanga near Borcherds Quarry.

Young Ethan Solomons, of Lavender Hill, looks outside the window of a flat as other children play golf on a field nearby. Picture: Phando Jikelo / ANA

The old games some of their parents used to play like Juju train, where they would imitate the sound of the train, have become regular features in some of the townships while some use this time to make kites using plastics.

In Hanover Park, most children have nowhere else to play besides the space in front of the flats, where gang violence usually breaks out.

Taiwan informal settlement children in Site C, Khayelitsha, race each other on the foot bridge connecting to Driftsands.  Picture: Phando Jikelo / ANA

Faced with hunger daily, they turn to Good Samaritans like Mark Nicholson. He provides hot meals for the children. 

“Our sports club is Lavender Hill Sports and Recreational Foundation. We are a non-profit company and have been doing this from our own money since 2003. 

Children of Taiwan informal settlement in Site C, Khayelitsha, play on a field next to shared outdoor toilets as the congested area presents little choice for playing spaces.  Picture: Phando Jikelo / ANA

"Myself and my wife, Shireen Nicholson, had kids coming to train every day so we had to feed them a meal after training so that they don’t go home with empty tummies.

“Things changed since Covid-19 because the meals kids got at school were not there any more.

Lavender Hill children have been looked after by community worker Charmaine Josephs, who has provided about 500 of them with meals and party packets to keep them occupied.  Picture: Phando Jikelo / ANA

“We have 137 boys playing soccer and 59 netballers, a few dancers and a longboard girls skate club. The kids are the reason for what we do. 

"I come from a life of drugs, from age 16 to 30 years old and I needed to give back to the community. We feed kids and adults and take meals to elderly and disabled people. 

In Town Two, Khayelitsha, soccer is the most popular game/sport as children play on a sewage-filled soccer field.  Picture: Phando Jikelo / ANA

"I still believe we should do more. If more help comes, we need food essentials to feed more than 300 people twice a day,” said Nicholson.

Some of the local soccer coaches who spend most of their time with these children have spoken of the disappointment the young ones have expressed after team activities were cancelled.

Goal Hunters coach Anela Bota in Khayelitsha said for most of the youngsters he coaches, soccer was not just a sport but a getaway from crime, alcohol and substance abuse.

Adding to their disappointment is the fact his young charges will not be able to take part in the Kenpark tournament that they have qualified for after trying for three years.

Bota has remained positive, encouraging them to train on their own at home in order to be able to start where they left off before the lockdown.

As efforts intensify to stop the spread of the outbreak in densely populated areas at this stage of the lockdown, the focus needs to be shifted to educating these children about the situation South Africa finds itself in.

Those who wish to assist Nicholson in helping vulnerable children may contact him on 063 567 3739.

Cape Times

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