Alex Mall hopes to draw affluent Sandton folk to its doors

This is the view expressed by Mpho Motsumi of the Greater Alexandra Chamber of Commerce (Galxcoc) when he led a delegation of journalists on a guided tour of the work in progress on the mall, which is scheduled to open its doors to shoppers at the end of March or early April this year.

Motsumi, whose Galxcoc co-owns the massive half a billion rand mall with McCormick Properties, said they had deliberately included the tourism aspect in the creation of the mall in order to draw tourists not just within the country but from abroad as well, in an endeavour to change the negative aspects of Alexandra that has crept in over the years.

“My mission is to use the mall to change the history of our township, from a place known for its recent criminal aspects, filth and rodent infestation to the old and vibrant Alexandra, which [incorporated] arts, dance, music, theatre and sports in its heyday.

“We want to bring back the vibrancy of the 60s right up to 80s when the township was the place to be if you were an artist, musician, dancer, theatre practitioner or footballer of note and outstanding boxer of your time,” Motsumi said.

The Galxcoc president said tourism will play a major role in the rekindling of the vibrancy of Alexandra, as tourists will be taken on a guided tour of the various tourist spots, such as the house where former President Nelson Mandela first lived on his arrival in Johannesburg, and that of former Frelimo guerrilla leader and first president of Mozambique, Samora Machel.

Other sites include Entokozweni Centre, the former breeding place of artistry in its various forms; the Pan African Square, which was the breeding ground of pan-Africanism; and the adjacent old Alexandra Health Centre building, including the Alexandra Stadium where footballers of note were born.

“The history of Alexandra will be narrated during these guided tours so that tourists, and others who do not know all this, will get to know what Alexandra was in those good old days when there was still order,” Motsumi said.

“I grew up here [in Alexandra] staring at wealth [in Sandton] that I could not touch or access, and I hope this mall will play a part in trying to bridge the gap between the two communities.”

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