Published on 29th March 2016

Love From Manenberg

  • Debby Lottering, right, and her older sister, Naomi, in their childhood home.
    Manenberg, July 2012.

  • Naomi Lottering with her son, Shaquille, at the ARK, a center for rehabilitation in Faure, a suburb 15 miles from Manenberg. In her early teens Naomi began spending time on the streets. Today, she doesn't contact her family for weeks or months at a time, but whenever she comes home to Manenberg she is welcomed by her sister, Debby, and father, Franz. "I've never been homeless, I'm just a drifter," says Naomi.
    Faure, December 2012.

  • Meezie and Zobie Lottering, front, play with neighbors after school. Many parents worry about letting their children play outside because of the danger and influence of the gangs in Manenberg. Some gang members are
    recruited when they are as young as ten years old.
    Manenberg, July 2014.

  • National ID cards were introduced to South Africa by The Population Registration Act of 1950, which required that every South African be classified and registered in accordance with his or her racial characteristics.
    Manenberg, June 2012.

  • A young man who goes by the name "X" smoking crystal meth. Known as "tik" in South Africa, meth has reportedly become Cape Town's mostly commonly used drug.
    Sea Point, July 2012.

  • "In this place, you can't ask 'why?'' says Debby Lottering of her hometown, Manenberg. Here, Debby is pictured at home in the two-story, three-bedroom duplex she shares with with her three children and her cousin, Ralph Richards.
    Manenberg, December 2012.

  • One-year-old Zipporah Lottering visits her father, Kazuba, who lives in Philippi, a suburb four miles from Manenberg. Kazuba sees his daughter an average of once every two months.
    Philippi, January 2016.

  • Meezie Lottering at home in Manenberg on the bed he shares with his mother, Debby, and two siblings.
    Manenberg, December 2012.

  • The moon rises over Manenberg on a late summer evening. This image was captured from the second floor of Debby Lottering's home, which is nearly identical to the duplex pictured. Debby says of her lifelong home, "When I was young I was a nervous wreck. A loud bang or something would freak me out, but you see now that I've grown, I've gotten used to the sound of the bullets and the gunshots. The violence and the gangsterism is affecting our lives, but further than that Manenberg is a very good place to live. Manenberg is a peaceful and loving place."
    Manenberg, March 2014.

  • "The Brazilian Millionaire's Daughter." In Manenberg, everybody looks for an escape from time to time.
    Manenberg, January 2015.

  • Neighbors Jessica Adams and Debby Lottering talk at the kitchen table inside the Adams's home while Tosha Adams, 14, looks at her phone.
    Manenberg, December 2015.

  • Debby Lottering helps her daughter, Zipporah, whose name means "beauty," get dressed after a bath.
    Manenberg, January 2016.

  • Storms River Way is one of the main thoroughfares of Manenberg.
    Manenberg, January 2016.

  • Debby Lottering visits with her neighbor, Luna.
    Manenberg, March 2014.

  • Meezie Lottering, six, waits to be called inside on his first day of primary school.
    Manenberg, January 2016.

  • "I didn't raise my child to be a gangster, but as a mother I must live with it and see what the end of the day will bring," says Charmaine Pietersen, right. Charmaine's son, Ashwin, center, is a member of the Hard Livings gang, one of the oldest, largest, and most powerful gangs in Manenberg.
    Manenberg, March 2014.

  • Meezie and Zobie Lottering, Debby’s children, play with their Grandpa Franz in the living room of Franz's home, where he lives with his third wife and her children. Franz sees his grandchildren almost daily, taking on childcare duties that allow his daughter, Debby, to work longer hours.
    Manenberg, March 2014.

  • Twenty-six-year-old Debby Lottering spends two hours commuting to and from her job at Pinto’s Foods, a fast food restaurant where she works 40-50 hours per week to support her three children on her own. Since she began working nearly a year and a half ago, Debby has experienced many changes. "I feel more like a mother to my children," she says. "Now I can do things on my own like go to the shop, buy this, get that. I'm able to manage myself. I actually feel like a woman because I'm not dependent on other people," explains Debby.
    Manenberg, December 2015.

  • Zobie Lottering, Debby's oldest son, scratches the symbol of the Hard Livings gang — the British Flag — onto his leg.
    Manenberg, April 2014.

  • Ashwin Pietersen walks through Manenberg with his friends. Ashwin’s sweatshirt bears the symbol of the Hard Livings gang, the main rival of the Americans gang.
    Manenberg, March 2014.

  • A member of the Hard Livings gang, one of the oldest and largest gangs in Manenberg, shows his tattoo. Because of relentless gang violence, Manenberg was declared a "red danger zone" in mid-2015 by the Health Department and for several months ambulances were not allowed in the area unless escorted by the police.
    Manenberg, March 2014.

  • During apartheid many of Manenberg's first residents were removed from thriving neighborhoods near Cape Town's city center and relocated to Manenberg. In recent years attempts have been made by the city to improve living conditions by renovating the row houses built in the 1960s. Gang violence in Manenberg prevented the completion of the renovations and families were forced to settle in shipping containers for up to a year that were intended for short-term use. Many containers housed four to 12 family members.
    Manenberg, March 2014.

  • Ashwin Pietersen, a member of the Hard Livings gang, displays a picture of the star of "Four Corners," a film based on gang life in Manenberg. Ashwin is also a son, brother, uncle, friend, boyfriend, and for better or worse, looked up to by many youth. Nicknamed Guru, Ashwin is often seen moving through Manenberg with a crowd of kids, friends, and dogs surrounding him. When I asked his mother, Charmaine, to describe her son, she told me, "He's quiet, he likes to make jokes. He likes birds -- he builds cages for birds -- and he likes dogs. If he sees a dog on the road that is sick, he brings it home and nurses it until it heals," she said. "One day, Ashwin will bring a horse into this house," his mom laughed.
    Manenberg, March 2014.

  • Youth in Manenberg gamble for small coins at dusk. Ashwin Pietersen is pictured picking up a coin in the middle of the group of young men. Edmond, Ashwin's cousin, stands to the left of the group, watching for rival gangs. In late 2014, 20 gang-related murders reportedly took place within two weeks in Manenberg and neighboring Hanover Park.
    Manenberg, September 2014.

  • Charmain Pietersen, the mother of Ashwin Pietersen, stands over Ashwin's body at the viewing in the Pietersens’ living room. Two of Charmaine's daughters stand at her side. Photo by Sam Reinders.
    Manenberg, January 2015.

  • A message taped on the kitchen wall inside the Pietersen's home.
    Manenberg, January 2015.

  • Charmaine Pietersen visits the cemetery as often as possible, always bringing a shovel to keep the dirt in place on top of her son's grave. Here, her granddaughter, Chelsea, is by her side. On December 21, 2014, Ashwin Pietersen, Charmaine's son, was killed outside their home in Manenberg by a rival gang. Charmaine says, "The years go on and the months go on. We know he's in a safe place. I don't need to worry where Ashwin is at night if they start shooting or if there is violence in Manenberg. We can sleep peacefully now. I'm glad for Ashwin, for where he is now."
    Plumsted, January 2016.

  • The Filadelfia Tabernakel Church at night. Pastor Morris, who leads the church, has been in Manenberg since 1975 when his family was relocated there from District Six. Pastor Morris works with many gang members in the area and says, "If you save a gangster’s soul, they won't hold a gun, they will hold a Bible."
    Manenberg, September 2014.

  • Debby Lottering and her son, Meezie, watch as Meezie's older brother walks to school. In August 2013 all schools in Manenberg were closed after a spike in gang violence that killed nearly 50 people. The gangs often shoot at the same time that kids and adults commute to school and work. Bullet-resistant fences now surround all schools.
    Manenberg, March 2014.

  • Jessica Adams, a friend and neighbor, visits Debby Lottering's home.
    Manenberg, January 2015.

  • Debby Lottering helps her oldest son, Zobie, get ready for school in the morning.
    Manenberg, March 2014.

  • The Lottering family cheers at the television as they watch a professional WWE wrestling match between Roman Reigns and Sheamus. Thirty-year-old Naomi Lottering, second from left, recently learned that her CD4 count is below 200, meaning her health status has progressed from HIV to AIDS. Naomi -- tall and pretty with bright brown eyes, long nails, and a naughty laugh -- chooses to live on the streets of Cape Town. Her family in Manenberg always has a bed in their home waiting for her return.
    Manenberg, January 2016.

  • Meezie Lottering, six, is comforted by his aunt, Naomi Lottering. When this picture was taken Naomi, who primarily lives on the streets of Cape Town and is living with HIV, was staying with her sister Debby in an effort to take care of her health and change her lifestyle. She went back to the streets within two weeks. "Being on the streets...that's freedom for me," Naomi says.
    Manenberg, January 2016.

Love From Manenberg

Daily Life, Social Issues, Documentary

Tagged with:
  • cape town
  • south africa
  • manenberg
  • family
  • apartheid
  • gangsterism
  • poverty
  • fortitude