A Walk into One of Johannesburg’s Dangerous Towns

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I have always feared Alexandra. Forgetting the best and most beautiful part of the township. Located near the affluent commercial hub, Sandton, Alex, is described as one of the most dangerous places to be for its extensive crime statistics. Most importantly by the race gang that over-crowds its population. With jobs being scarce and school fees being expensive, most teenagers resort to crime just to feed their starving, ill and needy loved ones.

Alex was built in 1912, owned by the former farmer, Mr H.B Papefus who tried to establish it to a white suburban area, after naming it after his wife Alexandra.

Known as the most poorest township area in the country. Even though most people may know it for its most dangerous and ugly informal dwellings or shacks in short. Alex has wonderful houses and has the most beautiful views that you may wonder how such a content area could have the most beautiful sites.

During apartheid non-whites were forced out of their homes and moved to the townships, one of them including Soweto which has become one of the most popular tourism townships in South Africa. Alex has greatly evolved over the past decade and has became one of the strongest one would say townships with the much anticipating infrastructures being built.

In February 2001, the former President of South Africa released a statement stating that they will be a new development in Alexandra with a R1.3billion available for the Alexandra renewable project. This project was to take place in a 7 year development to better enhance the living state of the township. This was one of the challenges that was to uplift the living conditions of houses and the urbanisation whilst addressing the economic, social and physical simultaneously.  The Department of Housing extended its project to 2009-10 during the economic statement. Therefore only R1.2 has been spent.

With sanitation becoming one of the major problems, the residents of Alexandra have been struggling in communicating with the government as they feel that they are being neglected. The political parties will come to ask for votes but cant live up to their promises. Water may be running on the streets as they are no pipes in the area. The shacks are well squashed near each other, rats have become a major problem in the township and still it seems as though no one really cares.

Credit: Wanda Sabir

In 2006, the former President of South Africa visited the township after it experienced the flooding and leaving at least 7 people dead, he took the initiative to assure people that there is a plan in the long-term that will control the flow of water at the Jukskei River.

Having started farming Gogo (granny) Mathilda Nkhambule and Nora Moselakgomo of Gogo’s co-op, started the company of farming to alleviate the hunger in her community. She has always loved farming and has even had a few help from other people in the community. They hard work is being distributed into fresh produced markets like food lovers market, Jo’burg fresh produced markets, Spar, and a number of restaurants in Sandton and surrounding areas.

After visiting the most dangerous spots in Alexandra, I was shocked to discover that there are other hidden spots here that are safe and of easy access. The Neh! African Cuisine, Cigar Lounge and Butchery is one of the hottest and most visited spots in Alexandra located just on the 57, 5th street. For the jazz lovers be sure to pop by the jazz club located at Maloke B&B, 61 7th avenue in Alexandra. For customized tourism guide be sure to contact the Khavo Travel and Tourism.

With the beautiful parks to just lay and watch as the children enjoy the amazing swings and running around like life is still full. This sure was one of my biggest highlights.

Alexandra Mall was opened successfully in 2009 and with just a maximum of 60 stores to choose from. This mall has changed the lives of the Alexandra community, with it being the Presidential shopping centre of Alexandra’s community renewable projects. With one of the kind, the mall includes a 50,000sqm’s taxi facility and placed in one of the busiest bus routes.

Alex is one of Joburg’s most historic places. It’s the oldest township in Joburg (older than Soweto), and it was Nelson Mandela’s first Joburg home. Alex is home to high concentrations of immigrants from all over South Africa, and Africa. Alex is severely lacking in resources and public services and the majority of its residents live in poverty. Alex is only about three square miles in size and it houses about 200,000 people, possibly more.

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