The Bontheuwel Joint Peace Forum (BJPF) has once again mobilised the community to rally against the recent increase in break-ins and vandalism at schools in the area. On Saturday, the forum along with residents and pupils marched through the back streets of the impoverished community, strategically passing major drug houses along their way. The forum’s spokesperson, Suraya Salie says the scourge of drug abuse affecting much of the youth is a large contributor to the increase in incidents of theft.
“We see residents stealing from their own family and neighbours to sustain their drug problems. Our children at schools are mostly affected by this because these public schools often act as a safe haven to many pupils,” Salie said.
While the initiative of the march was taken by Cedar Primary principal, the issue of vandalism and robberies has been targeted to homes in the areas as well.
“We have enjoyed peace and quiet in the area for months now. Since we [the community] stood up and addressed the issue of gang violence in the area. Now a new virus plagues our community… break-ins and vandalism caused by the ever growing drug problem,” Salie added.
“Everything that could be sold quickly is stolen. From copper cables, pots, gas stoves from the schools kitchen, vibacrete slabs, etc. There are about thirteen schools in the area but many of the children look forward to the one meal they get for the day, often a meal catered by the school. The drug addicts are stealing the education from our future generations,” she said.
However, most of the schools in the area already received renovations. Salie further explained that those renovations then became the target of local thieves and were taken from the structures days after.
“How can we build a better community for our children when we find individuals stealing whatever they can get their hands on in order to make a buck or two. If you drive through the community you will see people breaking up those vibacrete slabs to get to the metal part inside which they sell at the nearest scrap yard. We have already notified police of these local scrap yards who buy stolen items,” Salie added in frustration.
Salie shared her hopes in raising awareness amongst her neighbours that if they were to buy stolen goods from the street, they will only be encouraging and supporting the drug addicts who operate on their own doorstep. The Forum now plans on collaborating with police and the CPF to intensify their efforts by holding monthly protest actions in hopes of achieving the same result as they did in their successful plight to see a decrease in gang violence. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)