The Day Mandela’s Child got a Cap & Jersey

Constable Debbie Alard with kid in pink, "Mandela's Child' left front with cap. Photos: Marnette Meyer

Constable Debbie Alard with child in pink, “Mandela’s Child’ left front with cap. Photos: Marnette Meyer

On Mandela Day a little girl got a treat. Which was something, since she had missed out on school magically. But never mind. It was Mandela Day and all was forgiven as the local police accompanied by other worthies visited the poorest of the poor living on Varkplaas, 4 x 4 and Melkbosch Farm.

Varkplaas
This morning just about every resident of Varkplaas was at home. And that included a girl who should have been at school, and the adults, who are unemployed.

VarkplaasThe people of Varkplaas were whiling away the morning. They were sitting near the stack of chemical toilets which is some distance from the shacks. And then a cavalcade consisting of mostly police vehicles interrupted their morning. Representatives of the Melkbosstrand police, Melkbos Neighbourhood Watch, Melkbosstrand Community Police Forum, ACVV Koeberg and law enforcement officers were here on a Mandela Day outreach.

Constable Debbie Alard handed out gifts and admonished Chanté van der Pohl (8) who should have been at school: “You, with your Afro, I’ll you take to school.” “I lost the bus,” Chanté explained. “Come here Mandela’s child, Auntie Debbie’s child,” Constable Award consoled her.

Constable Debbie Alard with the people of 4 x 4.

Constable Debbie Alard with the people of 4 x 4.

4 x 4
Getting to the 4 x 4 informal settlement was hard on the police car in which this journalist travelled. A desolate sight met the eye: Some shacks, an empty rusted birdcage hanging from a tree and a pack of dogs. No-one seemed to be at home. Only after some minutes some adults appeared. “The children are all at school,” they explained.

Gifts were left for the children. These included packs of panties that had been donated by a Melkbos woman who is worried about girls getting raped. At Varkplaas the gifts had also included pretty jerseys and caps that had been hand-knitted and donated by Strongwoman Liesl Schoonraad and her mother. The police spokesperson summed up the plight of the people when she said ruefully, “Optel se mense.”

Melkbosch Farm: Handing out panties.

Melkbosch Farm: Handing out panties.

Melkbosch Farm
A final trip in the police car took us to the people living on Melkbosch Farm. Again a group of dogs greeted us, and this time Constable Alard said, “Mandela’s dogs.”

A coloured poster of dolphins adorned a patch above the house’s front door. A cat watched  from its perch on the roof. The house, which is subdivided, looked much better than the makeshift structures we had seen so far as it had been built with bricks and mortar.

It did not matter too much that it stands next to the foundation of a house that burnt down some years ago. Gifts of sweets were handed over and packs of panties were left for the girls. And then it was time to head back to the police station again, for the next event on the busy Mandela Day roster.