Xolisa Bangani has been saddened by the negative press Khayelitsha has received over the past week after a mugging, he hopes to highlight the unseen good.
Khayelitsha, South Africa – The media has been buzzing since eleven international and five local students were mugged while on an outing in Khayelitsha’s notorious Site C. However, residents that rely on the tourism within that area feel overlooked by the negative news.
Xolisa Bangani, who founded the Ikhaya Garden, is heartbroken that the mugging took place. He is heartbroken that the only time his neighbourhood is in the news, is when something bad happens and he is heartbroken of the loss the possible income faced now that people may fear to visit Site C.
“He is a pioneer in the community upliftment space and a clear example of what can be done by individuals who seek meaningful change (with little to no resource to match).” – David Sheilds, co-founder of GEM
Xolisa wrote an open letter to explain his feelings about the muggings and how they have been portrayed in the media. He hopes people will understand the intricacies of living and working in an area that is riddled by crime. He hopes his open letter will highlight how important good reputations are and how quickly everything can come to an end. This is his open letter.
When we stared Ikhaya Garden in 2013 at Isikhokelo Primary School in Site C, Khayelitsha, we wanted to grow our community, grow our people, grow our youth which seems to be neglected, rejected and have no room to create opportunity for themselves. Also one of our main goals was to create a safe community for our local people and visitors who are coming all over the world.
It’s not a secret that crime is a common thing in Site C, Khayelitsha and a global disease that affects everyone who leaves in this world. Firstly, Site C is the most notorious place in Khayelitsha even some people from around Khayelitsha see it as a no go area. This is because of it being the slowest developing area in Khayelitsha, as a young boy growing up in Site C, this has been the most highlight of my entire life.
Anyways, growing up in such conditions has never been easy, but here we are surviving, and inspiring the world, displaying a massive hope and doing so much to change the status quo. In the past 7 years of our existence at Ikhaya Garden, we have hosted large groups of international people, yet till this day we have never had an event where our guests get mugged, in fact, it’s been the opposite of that, those who visited the place from outside Khayelitsha I’m sure they will agree.
I am pretty sure that it is because of the way we communicated and connected with the community, some times we would even be assisted by law enforcement to make that every visit goes accordingly. And for those who came out to support the initiative we are building, we can never say thank you enough for enabling us to shine hope for our beloved country and the world.
On Friday, last week our neighbouring school Vuzamanzi Primary School / Ikasi Project Green had a group of students visiting their project and unfortunately, 16 of them got mugged. This has affected the community of Khayelitsha in a very negative way most especially the tourism sector as the news on the media says a group of 11 tourists where robbed in Site C, Khayelitsha.
Question, why would the media exclude 5 South African who were part of the robbery? Most of the people in Khayelitsha feels like the media is continuing with their idea of trying to discredit safety measures for people who are visiting townships,…
It’s is no secret that the visit was not properly organised because the young people who were part of organising this visit are inexperienced, they are not trained to conduct tours and the biggest mistake was not to involve the community. But this doesn’t mean that these guys are bad, this means that these guys are trying to use their creative juices to blend an economic boost for themselves and the youth in general and also displaying a positive picture for the future of Site C, Khayelitsha and South Africa as a whole.
Yes, mistakes were made that led to the trauma that occurred on Friday. Otherwise, if things were done properly we wouldn’t be talking about the whole negative news we are getting from the media, and if this was a successful visit would the media write something about it? That’s another question for another day…
As I said Ikhaya Garden has been involved in townships tourism for more than 7 years in the same area, in collaboration with Uthando S.A, Coffebean Route and Airbnb, till this day we have never experienced such events of mugging. Although our positive stories have never been published by media houses.
This is the story and the struggle for Site C, Khayelitsha as we seek for a positive change. By doing the work that we do we seek no just to educate or showcase positive things to the international people but showing the locals as well, there are other ways of contributing towards a sustainable economy. In a small scale I believe we have accomplished so much,… the story and the struggle continues… we want to sympathize with the group of students who experienced this trauma as well as the Khayelitsha community. Also want to encourage people to start working together as a collective so to prevent such events from occurring, we are not perfect but this is the best we do rather than to sit back and do nothing about the unjust situations we live under in our under-resourced communities.
This is high time that the departments of government related to the work that we do support us as we have been trying to make things work for our communities, I believe we are the only hope left for Site C and Khayelitsha as we all know that things are not that simple around here but at least we try…”
Since posting his open letter, Xolisa has received encouragement to never give up and to keep pursuing his dream of a safer Site C. If you would like to chat with Xolisa, you can contact him via Facebook here. Together we can make the world a better place.