Alex Mall built as a catalyst to bridge the great apartheid divide

Alex Mall owner and president of the Greater Alexandra Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Galxcoc), Mpho Motsumi. Photo: Sipho Siso

Alex Mall co-owner and president of the Greater Alexandra Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mpho Motsumi, believes a lot remains to be done if the world-class mall is to realise the themes around its founding principles and to reach its full potential.

Some of those themes were to build the mall as a catalyst for social cohesion, financial inclusion and to bridge the gap between the affluent residents of Africa’s richest square mile, Sandton, and their poverty-stricken counterparts in Alexandra. “This was key to our plans around the mall.

“We had hoped we could use the mall to bring the people of Alexandra and Sandton [together], through what we call shopping tourism, as part of the bigger picture towards bridging the great divide of the apartheid era,” Motsumi said in a wide-ranging interview with the editor of Alex News, Sipho Siso, to mark the first anniversary of the mall which opened its doors to shoppers on 30 March last year.

Read: Alex Mall creation is a dream come true for Alex residents

Those founding principles have not been discarded and Motsumi said they will continue to engage and lobby the City of Johannesburg and provincial government to explore ways of ensuring these noble goals are attained. “I will not rest until we see the Gautrain’s Marlboro Station renamed the Alex Junction, and feeder buses established, just like other areas along the route of the Gautrain. Failure to do this will be tantamount to the perpetuation of the ideals apartheid and the slaying of the very principles of the social cohesion of our people,” Motsumi said.

He said the same feeder buses could be used to transport shopping tourists to the mall. “They can easily jump off the Gautrain and hop onto a bus to the mall and other markets and stalls we hope to establish along the same vein as Vilakazi Street Precinct in Soweto. Many of these shopping tourists may not feel comfortable driving themselves, and the Gautrain and buses come in handy.”

Read: Councillors sing praises of the new Alex Mall which is set to launch at the end of March

Motsumi said Alex was the only black community along the Gautrain line. “We see it as an insult that the only station we get in the long route is not named after the community in which it is built. It seems to be a perpetuation of apartheid that black people don’t matter and that good things are not good enough for township folk. We want to market Alex into a brand of its own.”

As part of the ideals of turning Alex into a tourism hub, Motsumi said more infrastructure was needed such as a state-of-the-art theatre, a conference centre, museum and a revamped Alexandra Stadium. “We want the people of Sandton to start spending in Alex, as we do in their areas. We want to do away with the crime connection so they can see Alex in a different light.”

What do you think of the grand ideas of Mpho Motsumi? Tell us on the Alex News Facebook page

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Sipho Siso

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