Situated on the outskirts of Cape Town facing the majestic False Bay is an unassuming place called Mitchell’s Plain. Historically a bitter story for local people, today this place offers something interesting and different to the rest of Cape Town. With great street art, creative people, and a real sense of togetherness, Mitchell’s Plain might just surprise you.
As with most South African suburbs, the history is linked to that of colonialism and more recently Apartheid. South Africa saw a major change in its social structures during the 1960s and 1970s with millions of humans being forcibly removed out of the cities by the government of the time. Most non-white citizens were moved out of the city centres and many “new” areas were created for these communities on the outskirts of the city. One of the most famous and well-known suburbs created in Cape Town was Mitchell’s Plain. This area was made to accommodate mixed-race families and has grown to be one of the largest informal settlements in South Africa today with a population of around 290 000 humans. As with most Apartheid stories, it’s easy to focus on the negatives when in reality today, this place has more to offer than sad history. What springs to mind when thinking of Mitchell’s Plain? Laughter, community, and a real sense that what happened in the past should not create the community, but rather help it shape all its citizens in the future for good.
Being so close to the beach and on the false bay side of Cape Town (where the water is a little bit warmer), this place lends itself to a great day at the beach. There is a blue flag beach in Mitchell’s plain called Mnandi Beach, with many walkers and fishermen aplenty, it feels safer than a secluded beach and you even have a chance to see whales in season. The Wolfgat Nature Reserve offering majestic limestone cliffs overlooking Mnandi Beach is also worth a visit. In terms of dining and drinking, there are 2 very famous spots in Mitchells Plain that are standard for locals. The first would be the Grillfather, “The number 1 steakhouse in Mitchell’s plain”. Another would be the premium sports bar, where great local comedic talent gets a chance to shine while you enjoy some cold beers. They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, well we believe that the way to a city’s heart, is through its local comedians and food.
Mitchell’s Plain has had its very own share of crime-related issues. Like any place in South Africa, it’s best to warn people to be aware of their surroundings. It is not recommended to drive alone at night in the area and to always be vigilant of what’s happening around you. It is also advised to not go to the beach after dark.
Stories of people uniting during tough times and making something better of every situation is almost a normal occurrence in Mitchell’s Plain. There are some fantastic community outreach projects in the area today, and one of the most interesting ones available to see in the video below is called Seed. This project has been teaching the local students and community members to make their own vegetable gardens to support their own families and even to try to make some extra money. The climate in Cape Town is ideal for nurturing your very own vegetable gardens and empowering local people with projects like this has been something of a focus for the local community.