There is a coffee shop in Bonteheuwel. It’s a sentence I never thought I would say. In fact, it sounds so absurd to me that it could be the beginning of a joke. There are two reasons why this is such mind bending news to me.
Firstly, I grew up in Bonteheuwel, so of course I notice the news that comes from there; but it’s usually the kind of stories that I am ashamed of and angered by. It’s often stories of depravity and a disregard for life that has been normalised. Which brings me to the second and most ironic reason; as a symbol of social progress and suburban bliss, finding a coffee shop in the heart of gangland is an oddity, to say the least.
The double irony of it all is that a coffee shop in Bonteheuwel is in fact the thing that should have been normalised a long time ago. This past Sunday, local resident Aneesah Seale launched “That Coffee Shop” on a whim, after the idea struck her a few days earlier. It was a natural progression from what she had been doing for the past three years. She has become known as “The Cake Lady,” as she made a business out of baking cakes for all occasions. “I make any kind of cake for weddings, birthdays and anything else; from cheesecake to red velvet cake that melts in your mouth,” she says proudly.
Aneesah says her new venture seats 20 people in her front yard and has two counters which serve as a waiting area for those ordering takeaways. She says people are loving the idea of a local coffee shop and she has had enormous support and positive feedback. “We are open six days a week – from Tuesdays to Sundays and also serve roti and curry,” she explains.
Aneesah serves delicious desserts with her coffees, which range in price from R24 for a Latte, to R32 for a Cappuccino. And just like any respectable establishment in tourist havens, you also have the option of ordering an Americano or hot chocolate. Aneesah says she hopes “That Coffee Shop” in Firethorn Street will one day become so popular that it becomes a tourist attraction.
With her enterprising ventures, Aneesah has managed to provide jobs for five ladies and hopes to expand and create even more in future. It is a perfect example of the industrious spirit of people on the Cape Flats, which has given birth to many brilliant ideas and creative individuals over the years.
The deprivation is often the chief focus and there are a handful of gangsters who make life miserable for the residents. But if enough ideas like this could see the light of day, serving as examples to young people for what can be done with some effort and commitment, then the tide can be turned. What Aneesah needs now is support and encouragement, so her business can grow and create effort more opportunities for others.