6 August 2020
It is 8am on a Saturday morning, and a group of about 35 runners are going round an 800m circuit. One family is pushing a pram. There are a few children and some elderly people in the group, dressed in fitness attire – a regular enough sight in such places as Rondebosch Common or the Sea Point Promenade, but this is Hanover Park on the Cape Flats.
Resident Glenn Hans started running with friends around the Rondebosch Common two years ago to keep fit. Then the pandemic hit and the country went into Level 5 lockdown in March. At the start of May, when regulations were eased to allow for exercise in the early morning, Hans started running again and caught the attention of the community. Now, there are usually about 80 people.
When the country went into Level 4, Heather Vlotman wanted to start getting fit, but her home was too small. From her gate she saw Hans training on the field and she joined him the next morning.
“People always look at Hanover Park as gangsterism. It’s always negative things happening. And for this thing that’s positive, it’s a plus,” says Vlotman.
One of Vlotman’s favourite things about the group is that it includes young and old. Some people run, others walk at their own pace. She says that for people struggling with the cigarette ban, walking helps. “I am so thankful for this,” she says.
“Everyone knows Hanover Park for the gang violence,” says Jacobus Pretorius, who joined the group two weeks ago. Pretorius said it showed that Hanover Park isn’t always bad or filled with gangsterism.
“People come here just to relax their minds,” says Hans. Many have lost their jobs and are stressed out by financial problems. “People come here just to be free, to release all of their stress and to find themselves,” he says.
The club trains for 45 minutes from Monday to Saturday starting at 8am; 30 minutes of running or walking is followed by 15 minutes of exercises.
“For me to see all of these people trying to improve their health means a lot, because that is my main goal,” says Hans. He plans to register the club as Walking, Running is Life Vannie Hanover Park.
CORRECTION: The article originally incorrectly spelt Ms Vlotman’s surname.