From the news desk

Manenberg moms rescue kids from gangs

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In a last attempt to stamp out gangsterism, Manenberg mothers have a plan to take children as young as five years old off the street and out of the area so they can experience a different side of life.

By doing so, they hope to limit the children’s exposure to gangsterism and terminate the violent rivalry that has claimed the lives of dozens of innocent people.

A gang war has been raging in Manenberg for the past two weeks and a number of people have been shot and killed.

Mothers spoke on Wednesday of the pain of seeing children becoming drug addicts and gangsters – and they have said “enough is enough”.

A huge effort is needed to save a generation of young people, some of whom have never left Manenberg.

On Wednesday, the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) published a graphic showing that in Manenberg there are just over 200 police officers per 100 000 people, compared to 500 officers per 100 000 people in Rondebosch.

It showed that 17 000 drug-related crimes took place in Manenberg and 3 000 in Rondebosch over a four-year period.

Police still have to verify that 14 people have been killed in gang-related shootings in Manenberg over the past two weeks.

The gang war has spurred about 10 women to get together this week under the banner of the “Taking Back our Children Campaign”.

Campaign leader Amelia September said hundreds of teenage mothers did not have the skills or resources to deal with their children, who might be at risk, and as a result their children bullied or threatened them until they eventually got their way.

Many of the children in the area wanted to join gangs, September said.

“This campaign will equip mothers with the skills they need to identify whether their children are at risk of joining gangs, and try to put a stop to it before it begins.

“Many children and mothers do not have the capability to handle conflict, and in the end they just give in. We are out to empower women and start programmes that will expose children to life outside of Manenberg.

“This should inspire them to want a better life for themselves. Many of the children and mothers have never left the area and do not know what life is like on the outside. It is crucial that they get the exposure,” September said.

All of the women in the group live and work in the area as teachers, nurses and some are business owners.

September, a qualified social worker who has worked for Rape Crisis and the Saartjie Baartman Centre, based in Athlone, is training the women in conflict resolution.

They are also planning to take children on excursions.

They hoped to get more help from other institutions, September said.

Mother Linda Petersen said:

“Men will be ashamed by what they are doing if they see the good we expose the children to. This is a last resort and I hope it works.”

This week police admitted that the province faces a massive shortage of police officers as the gang war rages.

Provincial police commissioner Khombinkosi Jula confirmed reports that 85 percent of the province’s police stations were understaffed, with 2 392 posts vacant.

Police had not confirmed the SJC figures by Wednesday night.

[Source: Cape Times]

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