This year Alexandra is celebrating 100 years of its existence and very few residents imagined they would one day have their own mall.
Last week the mall welcomed three new tenants: Edgars Active, Truworths and Mr Price, adding to the growth of the R240-million development.
Since it was opened by President Jacob Zuma in 2009, the Pan Africa Shopping Centre has seen tenants making more than R30-million a month.
The centre enjoys a huge influx of people because it is positioned in an area visited by more than 50000 people daily, along with more than 1000 taxis. Bringing more convenience to the Alexandra community is a taxi rank situated on the roof of the mall.
Tebogo Mogashoa, chairman of Tebfin Ltd, the developer of the mall, said he first had a vision to build a mall in Alexandra in 2003 and approached the local taxi associations to ask them to convert what was then a taxi rank.
"I had this vision that I wanted to build a mall with a taxi rank on the roof so that people can come and buy, and when they want to catch a taxi they do not have to go anywhere," he said. "In short, I wanted to bring Sandton to Alex and it worked," Mogashoa said. For years the community of Alexandra has called the place Pan Africa.
"The reason is not known. People feel comfortable to come here because the development responds to their lifestyle," he said.
The mall has a mix of groceries, fashion and services such as Nedbank, Standard Bank, Capitec and the SA Post Office. Pick n Pay provides the groceries and the influx of shoppers is unbelievable.
On future development, Mogashoa said: "Once there is sufficient interest then we will consider opening another section of the mall. We will continue to expand every three to five years as demand grows."
Japs Tabane and his wife Vivian work for Matiba Ka Tlhako, a cleaning company at the mall. The couple were born and bred in Alexandra and seeing themselves working at the mall was a "dream come true".
"When we were young we never thought that a shopping centre of this size would be in Alexandra. People have got jobs and their lives have changed since the mall came here," said Tabane.
Resident Alina Mukhari, 51, praised the mall for bringing services closer to the community. "We used to spend money going to Sandton, Joburg and other malls but now we save money because the mall is within walking distance," she said.