The community of Manenberg lost another three youth during gang wars over the weekend. The Safe Manenberg Campaign (SMC) along with concerned residents have ramped up efforts to address the fundamental issues which cause young people to turn to gang violence.
SMC’s Waheed Sookool said the socio-economic challenges is the leading cause why violence and gang related activities have become more prevalent over the years.
“Gangsterism goes back to the years of District Six. There was the Gentleman’s Club among many others. However, since the introduction of drugs and the easy accessibility of it, gang related crime has increased,” Sookool said.
Sookool’s years of services in the Manenberg community has put him at the forefront of the reality that is within the gang infested community. Sookool says drugs, gangsterism, poverty and unemployment has become something of a norm in Manenberg. Sookool further explained that in any family, if a loved one has fallen prey to the ills of society, it is a family’s duty to hold an intervention if they wish to see some improvement the life of the said loved one. Sookool uses this analogy to break down the real ways in which he feels, through his years of advocacy in the area, some real change can be found.
“Many of the young boys who have entered the life of gangsterism are school drop outs. The community has become infested with young people no longer caring about their education. We need to change the perceptions of young people who look up to these negative role models within the community.”
“We should not be exposing our young to the life of drug and alcohol abuse. We need to treat Manenberg as an extension of our families. If someone steps out of line, we need to step in, in our capacities and address the issues,” Sookool further explained.
The recent incident has sparked some concern from members of the community after gang leaders met with religious leaders and elders of the community and signed a peace agreement to allow residents in the area freedom of movement without the fear of getting caught in a cross fire over the holiday period.
“It is a common ploy by gangs to keep peace during festive season but just continue with their business once January arrives. We need to address the underlying issues in this community before we can really see extended periods of peace,” Sookool added.
However, on the positive side, small efforts have come from the Manaarul Hudaa Masjied in Jordaan Street, who have embarked on an evening walk after Maghrieb prayers. Sookool says the community has begun noticing their walks and respect them when they embark on their nightly patrols of the area.
“They have the opportunity to put pressure on local drug houses and monitor the happenings within the area that could potentially assist in the combating of violent crimes through observing hotspots and activities,” Sookool said.
And finally, Sookool says a large contributor to the already downward spiral of young gang recruits is the easy accessibility of cheap drugs such as tik and unga at every turn. All reasons attributed to a challenged community that was born out violence on the back of the District Six forced removals. VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)