Masiphumelele / Lake Michelle

The Southern Cape Peninsula, about 20km from Cape Town’s city center, is comprised of several idyllic, picturesque suburbs such as Noordhoek, Kommetjie, and Fish Hoek. Horse riding tours are common on nearby Long Beach. Surfing is a popular pastime. 
 Sandwiched within the “Sun Valley” communities is Masiphumelele. There are approximately 38000 people living there, many in small tin shacks. There is no police station, only one small day clinic, and it’s estimated that up to 35% of the population is infected with HIV or TB (Wikipedia + Masicorp). Fires are common in winter, which sweep through the shacks, sometimes displacing residents by the hundreds. Moreover, the entire community of 38000 is accessed by only one single exit/entrance.
 Across a narrow wetlands, the community of Lake Michelle is surrounded by an electrified fence and accessed through a guardhouse. Current prices on real estate sites put their value at several million rands. On the day I flew overhead, several people paddleboarded in the choppy lake waters. I see the wetlands between them as a sort of no-man’s land; an area too scary to venture into from either side. I imagine both sides peer across at their neighbors with distrust and suspicion.

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