Gang leaders in Manenberg have showed an interest in creating platforms of dialogue with anti-crime activists and the community. This emerged at a meeting in the area on Wednesday night, as roleplayers in the community attempted to salvage a shaky truce between warring gangs. The truce was agreed upon two weeks ago, amid pleas from residents to stop the violence during the month of Ramadan, which also coincided with the school holidays.
“They [gang leaders] are our children. We know how to speak to them. Only we can address their concerns but we need support from government. This problem of gang violence is being sensationalised. Some people are reversing the progress which the Manenberg Safety Forum is making with gangsters by stirring the pot when there is no gang violence. It’s detrimental to our children who will begin the next term at school on Monday. The city is not holding our hands,” said the forum’s Rugshanda Pascoe.
Despite the Manenberg cease, a 13 year old girl was shot in the neck last week whilst playing in the park. Pascoe said the community had high hopes that the truce would at least last till the end of the school holidays in order to ensure a safe playing environment for the children in the community and allow for Muslims in the area to celebrate Eid in peace.
Pascoe said the forum again discussed ways of eradicating gangsterism in the area completely at the meeting. Residents and gang leaders were in agreement on the matter but noted that this would be a long process.
“We are calling on local NGO’s to come into our community and see what the real problem is. We can eradicate gang violence but only if the right process is followed and we address the real socio-economic challenges here. We can’t do it on our own. Until then, we need to focus on protecting the community from violence,” Pascoe said.
With little hope in the future of the truce agreement, Pascoe says the community now feels as if they are being treated like poison in society.
“Youth have conformed to gang culture already. It is a norm. Right now, they are on the edge of fighting,” she stressed.
“Last night we made the decision that we are going to stand back and let people do as they feel what is right and we are going to do our thing and not lose focus of our own goals. We have reached out and invited people and NGOs and we have invited faith leaders but everyone is blind to the real fact.”
A new gang is also threatening the current state of the community, identifying themselves as “the Ghettos”.
“This gang is trying to get the same popularity of the other older gangs. They are shooting and really threatening the peace in the area by provoking other gangs. We really need a joint approach to this matter and we need it urgently,” Pascoe added. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)