The Plea for Peace initiative, which was started in 2012 by a Manenberg family, recently held a meeting to discuss the future of children exposed to gang violence and crime in the area of Manenberg. The meeting comes after an escalation in shooting incidents and gang-related activity within the area. The Plea for Peace initiative works with a number of schools in poverty-stricken areas and the main aim of the initiative is to promote non-violence across communities.
The event hosted 20 representatives from 20 organizations and schools. The WCED maths opportunity development, Community Chest, Western Province Cricket, Red Cross Society, the Methodist church and Manenberg High School were among the organizations and representatives that were present.
“The theme was to start a process that will culminate in peace in Manenberg and eventually in all socially challenged communities,” said Nadia Willoughby, from the Mentoring and Arts Academy and member of the Plea for Peace initiative.
A two week period in April of this year saw twenty one people killed. The two weeks ended 6 August 2016 saw nine individuals murdered – one stabbed and then stoned to death. Downville Primary was closed for the week of 1-5 August for the safety of their learners.
On Thursday, 4 August, a youngster was shot outside Manenberg Primary, and on Saturday, 13 August, a Silverstream High learner was stabbed. Educators work under extremely difficult conditions, learners study under very traumatic circumstances, and parents live in constant fear for the lives of their children.
Willoughby states some of the short-term and long-term solutions that were proposed at the meeting were to resolve poverty, to promote positive behaviour amongst children, to get parents to be more involved in their children’s lives and education, to improve the quality of life for children, to introduce social skills amongst the parents and for learners and to have more recreational facilities.
“We had a wonderful brainstorming session where people exchanged ideas and the wonderful thing about it was that the various groups spoke about the challenges they face,” said Willoughby.
In order for communities to flatten gang boundaries, organizations need to gather and operate under one umbrella.
“People do not often cross over into another area and question whether or not there is another organization that is offering skills that could make a difference,” said Willoughby. VOC