Had Mahatma Gandhi lived today, he would have been distressed by the state of affairs of the road named after him. The man wouldn’t have been able to see drug peddlers and prostitutes moving around freely on the road.
Ask any taxi driver for a place where you could buy drugs or indulge in some carnal pleasures, and he would invariably bring you to Mahatma Gandhi Road.
The road is notorious to say the least and one is bombarded with a whole lot of warning like, “Leave your wallet, chain etc back,” or worse still “you could be stripped of your clothes and shoes.”
But there is one warning that is reeled out far too often: “Don’t go alone, even during daytime when the road is teeming with people…and don’t ever venture out in the night.”
But being an Indian, it’s worth taking the risk, considering the road has been named after the “Father of the Nation”. After many rejections, I finally managed to convince a taxi driver to take me to MG Road. It’s daytime and the traffic was sparse, but the pavements are teeming with people. Locals here call it the ‘Point Road’ although a couple of signboards on the intersections clearly mention the name of the road as “MG Road”.
Ritesh, my driver, tells me that, “The buildings on either side of the road turn into prostitution dens by night. Drugs are openly sold on pavements.
“The road is inhabited by people of Nigerian, Indian and Pakistani origin who run car repair shops,” he says. The road, compared to white-dominated areas, is terribly maintained. Ritesh then sounds an warning. “Nigerian drug peddlers here have connections with international mafia.”
“Ironic as it may seem, the Mahatma’s name is taken with great reverence in the whole of South Africa and here, the road in his memory, is a den of vices,” says Fritz, a German national.
“I’m surprise how this road got its name, more so when the great man never lived here. Gandhiji used to reside in Enada. The house there is now a museum where his artefacts are on public display. It was destroyed during the 1985 conflict between the people of Indian origin and locals, but built again,” says Fritz. They also used to bring out a newspaper called ‘Satyagraha’ from Point Road.
Perhaps the place needs another apostle of peace to rid it of its vices.