Lavender Hill is one of the most dangerous communities on the Cape flats, with gang violence considered one of the major issues that affect residents within the area. Residents main concern is that their children are not safe travelling to school. In an attempt to ensure the safety of your children, the Department of Community Safety has started the Walking Bus Initiative, where adults escort scholars to and from school. Whilst this initiative is intended to safeguard children, support has dwindled as volunteers fear for their safety as outbreaks of gang violence continues.
The chairperson of the Steenberg CPF, Lucinda Evans explains that while the initiative from the Department of Community Safety is a wonderful project, it came at a difficult time as gang violence is at its peak in the Lavender Hill area.
“We are advocating with the police and with the department to ensure that the area is stabilized so that the Walking Bus Initiative can be successful,” Evans said.
Western Cape MEC for Community Safety, Dan Plato says that the aim behind the initiative is to safeguard primary school pupils.
“Despite gang violence, children should not be walking to school without parental supervision,” says Plato.
Plato urges parents to ensure that their children are escorted to and from school.
“It is highly unlikely that gangsters would necessarily engage in violent activities at schools or close to schools, as in most cases, their children are attending a school within the community,” Plato adds.
A meeting was held yesterday between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the minister of Community Safety, where it was established that not enough police resources are available to ensure the security of residents.
“There is not enough manpower at police stations and we found that only one police van patrols the area,” Plato noted.
The Police shortage has become a major issue and as a result the committee on Community Safety has begun public hearings regarding police resources.
“Areas like Lavender Hill is not the only areas lacking police resources, I have been to Stellenbosch and Franshoek and they are facing the same challenge.”
According to Plato, research has confirmed that if more parents volunteer in the Walking Bus Initiative, crime and violent activities would decrease and normalize within the area and children would be less scared and traumatized.
“If the Walking Bus Initiative volunteers escort children to school, children would be less terrified as the adults would be able to direct them as to where to run, what to do etc. in the event of gang violence or shootings,”Plato continued.
Plato urges all community members who are at home during the day, to sacrifice 30 minutes of their time in the morning and evening to participate in the initiative ensuring the safety of scholars within the community.