Alpha and Omega courts remembered

Members of the Jordan Walk Community Forum are, from left, chairperson Charles Josias, Marco Fabio, deputy chairperson Riedwaan Snyman, Faldielah van Harte, artist Sarliegh Swarts, Suzanne Hector, Fouzia Harding and secretary Muneba Snyman.

Manenberg residents have established a wall of remembrance for those who lost their lives in the tornado that hit the area more than 20 years ago.

The Jordan Walk Community Forum unveiled the wall on Sunday. It is at Tornado Park, where the Alpha and Omega blocks of flats stood before they were destroyed by the tornado that killed five people, injured 220 and left 5000 homeless on August 29 1999.

The wall is a way to tell the young generation about their community’s history, says Charles Josias, the chairman of the forum, which was started in October last year.

“We want to do good in the community, for the community. We started last year with the painting of the walls at the three parks in this pocket of the area. In this way, we want to encourage residents to take ownership of the parks. We also want to embark on other projects – whether it is taking the youth on hikes, or skills development. We are also trying to be the middleman between the City of Cape Town and the residents here.”

The mural depicts Alpha and Omega courts, which were destroyed by the 1999 tornado.

The idea for the wall is that of Riedwaan Snyman, the forum’s deputy chairman.

“So many children growing up here are not familiar with Alpha and Omega courts, and how the tornado destroyed them. We have asked people to forward the names of their loved ones they have lost, so that we can honour them on the memory wall. This not only applies to those who lost their lives in the tornado, but also includes those who have lost their lives since then,” Mr Snyman said.

All the members of the Jordan Walk Community Forum are volunteers. Suzanne Hector said she volunteered her time because she wanted to make the neighbourhood a better place for her children. Another volunteer, Marco Fabio, echoed that sentiment, while Muneba Snyman said most of them had lost their jobs because of Covid-19.

According to Fouzia Harding, the area’s unofficial historian, Alpha Court was the first block of flats built in Manenberg and its design was different to all the others that followed.

Sarliegh Swartz, a self-taught artist and ballroom-dancing instructor, painted the wall of remembrance with images of what the two blocks of flats had once looked like.

“The mural holds the history, and, at the same time, we are beautifying the area. We have set the bar high,” Mr Swartz said.

Mr Snyman said they hoped to make the area “a second Bo-Kaap”.

“We want to brighten up the area,” he said. “We already had a meeting with City of Cape Town officials. Tourists can come visit our area too.”