Western Cape DestinationsMitchells Plain, Cape Flats
Described in a former resident’s own terms, Mitchell’s Plain is a large, sprawling coloured township originally billed, when it was built about 20 years’ ago, as the area for coloureds and erected to house the middle income group.
Parts of it quickly deteriorated into little more than ‘urban ghettoes’ - a description so often applied to these ready-made slums erected by former apartheid rulers to separate whites from other race citizens.
Mitchell’s Plain lies about 20 kilometres from the city of Cape Town at the end of a brand new railway line, just west of Langa. Mitchells Plain is one of fifteen areas identified as high priority for action against crime and drug abuse - renowned for its gangsterism and tik addiction amongst its youth. Many families relocated here from District Six when it was razed to the ground, and although violent gangs are a way of life, Mitchell’s Plain in no way resembles the informal settlements that line the N2.
The former government liked to showcase Mitchell’s Plain to overseas visitors – the houses, although dreary, are, by black standards, ‘middle-class’, and neat rows of houses stretch for miles between wide thoroughfares. A recent FNB Bank survey concluded that for every home put up for sale in Mitchell’s Plain, there are now eight potential buyers. Despite the apparent dreariness of the Cape Flats, space is a commodity!
Today Mitchell’s Plain houses almost a million residents and a diversity of class backgrounds. It is economically divided into east and west - the western half of Westridge, Rocklands and Portlands is wealthier than the eastern half of Tafelsig, Beacon Valley and Eastridge.