Man uses art to keep youth off the streets of the Cape Flats

Man uses art to keep youth off the streets of the Cape Flats

Michael Bell founded an open-air art gallery, PAINT, after being attacked at gun point by two young men. 

Michael Bell
Michael Bell

The Cape Flats has a gang problem. In 2022, News24 reported that there were 175 gang-related murders in the province in three months.

Michael Bell is one of the residents who experienced the crime first hand. 

In 2008, Bell was attacked by two men with a gun while walking through Mitchells Plain on the Cape Flats.

"I was approached by two guys, knocked to my mouth with a gun. I almost lost my front teeth. I had a cut to my throat. The next thing I know I was in hospital,” Bell told Beautiful News

READ: Giving young South Africans a brighter future through Mathematics

However, this experience opened his eyes to a unique opportunity of using art to combat crime in the area. 

“I said to myself, ‘Either I hate them, or do something about it’,” he told the publication. 

This is how PAINT, an open-air art gallery, was birthed. 

Bell took what he loved, art, and looked for an opportunity to use it keep young people off the streets to avoid more people becoming victims of crime like he was. 

“Being a community placemaker is about changing places into spaces and making it more attractive to the community and drawing community to the public space,” he told the publication. 

Bell got other community members to help him, though he said at first it was not easy. 

“We are so used to the bland walls, the gang tags, and also the unserviced parks, so it was difficult at first getting the community involved,” he told the publication. 

However, now there is a an entire street art gallery. 

“We have people coming and going, some of them find employment as painters, as artisans, because of their opportunities that they have through PAINT."

READ: Psychologist provides homes for the poor in South Africa

Catch stories such as these by listening to Danny Painter every Monday to Thursday from 19:00 to 22:00. 

Image courtesy of Supplied. 

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