Over the past few weeks the Imizamo Yethu community in Hout Bay has been plagued by an upsurge in violence where several murders have already been reported over the past few weeks. Mzi Nyaki from the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) says that things are improving however the situation is not 100% back to normal.
“People do not believe that the gangsterism issue has been solved or the killings are over,” Nyaki said.
Veronica Varachia added that at times she was not able to fetch medication from the local clinic out of fear that the medication will be stolen from her. She claims medicines are used as drugs amongst the gangs.
These gangs were said to comprise of boys aged between nine and 18 years that began fighting each other for their own “territory” in the area. Community members also said that their children were forced to stay absent from school because at one stage the situation got so bad that there was killings almost every week.
“These kids have been attacking local residents in the community and it became a sort of gang war, these boys were fighting over territory and every weekend we were experiencing killings,” Nyaki explained.
After deciding that this gang war cannot continue the community organised a protest and march from Hangberg to Hout Bay to stand up against the gang violence and the drug abuse in their community. This protest took place over the past week and a memorandum was handed over to the Hout Bay police station.
“In the memorandum we listed the issues that relates to the crime in the area and also social economic issues that were addressed by the community,” Nyaki added.
Luzuko Mathethe, another voice from the community, says that since the community came together to stop the gangsterism there has been somewhat an improvement in the area where the fighting has ceased for the time being
“We took it upon ourselves to find the source of the problem and we found that most of the boys who are involved in the gangs have come from disadvantaged families,” Nyaki stated.
A meeting was held in the Hout Bay Christian community church where the parents of the gang members and the gang members were addressed in order to find solutions to the gang problems. Eventually at the end of this meeting Nyaki says that the boys agreed to hand over their weapons and SANCO went to retrieve these weapons from the boy’s houses.
“Other organisations have offered assistance and the boys have returned to school; those who haven’t have been offered skills training in order to ensure that they don’t fall back into the gang life,” Nyaki explained.
“Crime is a virus and it is up to the community to ensure that the can combat this problem by assisting those who are affected and by getting to the root of the problem and solving it there”. VOC (Umarah Hartley)