The governing body member had a huge tattoo on her muscular forearm spelling the name of her lover. “Risky, isn’t it?” I teased the round-faced woman who looked as if she had won a few boxing rounds in her life.

This was Elsies River, gangster paradise even to my community on the equally volatile southern side of the Cape Flats. It is here in “Elsies” where then president Jacob Zuma came to offer a RDP house to a family whose three-year-old daughter had been raped and killed by the family boarder. Elsies, said a local preacher in a botched attempt at exegesis, “breaks down as El, the Hebrew for God, and ‘sies’ — need I say more?”

“I am suspicious of this school,” I told the more than 20 teachers spread among the black computer stations in a crowded room for my motivational talk. “Why is the school so clean, spotless?” They assured me that it was always like this in the 57-year-old institution. “How are you?” I asked the well-dressed woman waiting for me in the foyer. “Blessed!” shouted the other governing body member with Pentecostal fervour.

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