Despite numerous protest marches and attempts to engage with gang bosses, Hanover Park residents continue to see little respite from the high levels of gang-violence that has ravaged their poverty-stricken community.
Ricardo Sedres of Hanover Park’s Backyard Dwellers Association says that despite the community’s appeals to national government for the introduction of the army to quell the situation, their pleas have effectively falled on deaf years. Despite the South African Police Services (SAPS) having run several crime-fighting initiatives in the area, including Operation’s Fiela and Lockdown, this has had little impact on curbing the violence.
“The real problem we are facing is that there are no activities for the youth in the area, and there is nothing there for them to say that when they come out of school they can go directly to a programme.
“There are no activities because of a lack of service delivery, so the youth are finding themselves board and are going into crime,” he stressed.
Much of the focus is centred on lack of access to the Hanover Park Community Centre, which the community is adamant could be used to operate programmes that will keep the youth off the streets.
Sedres explains that apart from sporting and other extramural activities, many of the area’s youth are also in dire need of work opportunities.
Another angle to tackling the crime problem, according the Sedres, would require a lockdown of the area in order to root out all bad elements.
“At the end of the day we are not getting to the core of the problem, which is the drug merchants and gang bosses. We need to start by evicting these people so we can clean our community,” he says.
Sedres also geared criticism towards the area’s councillor, who he has accused of failing to work in tandem with community workers towards a common goal.
“If he can call a meeting with all the community leaders, sit down with them and give a give a hearing to our programme (proposal) as a community, Hanover Park can succeed,” he adds. VOC