Today the Campaign for Safe Communities and other partner organisations will be making a solidarity visit to Manenberg to speak to community members about their experience with gang violence and to show our support.
Over 20 people have been killed over the last few weeks owing to gang violence. 14 Schools had to be closed in August after teachers, fearing for their safety as well as the safety of their learners, requested support from the government and threatened to walk out en masse.
Recognising that this is a crisis, the Western Cape government has since shifted R6 million from the education budget towards the deployment of Metro police in Manenberg. This has reduced the levels of gun violence on the streets, but the climate of tension and fear remains.
Community members, particularly the youth, have been deeply affected by the loss of family members, witnessing extreme acts of violence, and being directly victims of violence themselves. The youth need to be given special consideration. Trauma caused by exposure to violence makes it impossible for many of the youth to function effectively at school, and school closure means that they are significantly behind in the curriculum. Many youth also risk being caught in the crossfire while walking to and from school. Unfortunately, many of the youth also end up being perpetrators of violence, targeted for recruitment by the gangs many youths feel that joining a gang is the only way to ensure their safety.
Gangsterism is now spilling over from Manenberg to other areas such as Hanover Park, Mitchells Plain and even Khayelitsha. We must not turn our back on the Manenberg community when their constitutional rights to life, safety and education are being threatened daily.
Everyone, whether they live in Manenberg or not, has a responsibility to oppose this violence and support the people of Manenberg in the building of a safe community.