Khayelitsha, Cape Town - With the deep rumble of motorcycle engines and screeching tyres, the Kasi Riders make an impressively noisy entrance.
These leather-clad fanatics are the first official motorcycle club based in a Cape Town township; they’ve been around for the past five years but they have largely been riding under the radar.
And Khayelitsha seems to love them. On a ride through the area this week, the group was cheered on, posed for pictures and had videos taken by residents.
The bikers entertained residents with the club’s anthem - a medley of revs and hoots that cued an impromptu dance. The Kasi Riders are part of a growing number of enthusiasts whose numbers have been steadily rising in the townships.
The Kasi Riders established the club to challenge certain stereotypes about motorcycling.
Club president Mzingisi Baartman said they started the club - the only for bikers in Cape Town’s townships - in 2012. It was offiically launched at the weekend; it would have done so sooner but it has taken a while to get the numbers they thought they needed to officially launch the club.
Members of the club prepare for a ride. They were cheered on their way by residents
Baartman said the club is based in Khayelitsha but members come from other townships. It has 18 members: 17 men and one woman.
“Biking is a predominantly a white person’s hobby,” he said, “and when we go out riding in white areas they don’t believe it when they see black people on bikes.”
However, he said, in the broad biking community of Cape Town they are welcomed and have been accepted.
Motorists, he said, have accepted them on the roads as they make way and hoot for them when they pass.
Baartman believes they are working very hard to change perspectives of what motorcycling is about.
“Motorcycling is still fairly new in the townships and you get people who don’t understand what it’s about. But there are those that enjoy and love what we do - especially children, they get inspired when they see us.”
A member of the club pulls a doughnut in the streets of Khayelitsha
Baartman said some of the reasons they started the club were to organise themselves and for strength in numbers. Charity work in their communities is also part and parcel of the club’s purpose.
“We have adopted an orphanage in Khayelitsha where we donate food parcels for the children, we also help out in old age homes as well,” said the Kasi Riders president.
They get invited to weddings and sometimes to matric farewells to show off their machines.
Baartman said they had bikers from as far as Johannesburg come to support them at the launch.
As the bikers rode through Khayelitsha when we visited them earlier in the week, motorists made way for them while people took pictures and asked them to perform their favourite stunts.
Members of the Kasi riders in full regalia, complete with badges and leather, are well regarded by locals.
The bikers turned out in full regalia, their jackets emblazoned with a large red and green badge on the back, their name boldly printed above an image of a bike.
Baartman said the club only has one woman because they recruit people who own bikes.
“We have nothing against women, everyone is welcomed if they own a bike,” he said.
Pam ‘Miadi’ Nyandeni, works in marketing and has been an avid biker since 2012.
“I always loved bikes and riding is something I always wanted to do. I started riding in 2012 and I never looked back,” she said.
She described the biking fraternity as one big family; it doesn’t matter where one comes from and what gender, she has never been treated any differently.
The club’s only woman rider, Pam ‘Miadi’ Nyandeni, has been riding since 2012.
Nyandeni said some negative stereotypes of bikers persist.
“There are those who don’t like bikers and we want to change that, hence we do a lot of charity work,” she said.
Samuel ‘Samisto’ Simons, a City of Cape Town law enforcement officer, said riding was something unusual in the townships, which is what got him interested. He said people think bikers are rude, which is not the case.
Simons said the group was widely known in Khayelitsha.
“Some people are accepting of us but there is an element of scepticism from the minority, which I think has nothing to do with motorcycling” he said.
Monde ‘Chillibite’ Roro, a technician by profession, said they continue to interest residents who usually stream out of their homes when the club is out on rides.