CHILDREN FROM MANENBERG URGE THAT THE VIOLENCE STOPS

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BY PRECIOUS MUPENZI

  • Dr. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, Deputy Minister of Social Development, along with other stakeholders, inaugurated ChommY at Silverstream Primary School in Manenberg, Cape Town, hosting 100 boys and girls aged 10 to 14.
  • During dialogues, attendees discussed the social challenges in Manenberg, including a 13-year-old’s harrowing experience of witnessing a fatal drive-by shooting, amidst the area’s prevalent gang-related violent crimes and drug abuse.
  • Crime statistics from July to September 2023 showed an alarming 18.6% surge in murder cases within the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) operational in various regions, including Manenberg, underscoring the pressing need for initiatives like ChommY in high-crime zones.

Cape Town, 10 February: The Silverstream Primary School in Manenberg buzzed with excitement as one hundred boys and girls aged 10 to 14 readied themselves for the inauguration of ChommY. The event was hosted by Dr. Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, the Deputy Minister of Social Development, in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Dr Bogopane-Zulu, accompanied by the Chief Whip of the majority party in Parliament, Ms Pemmy Majodina, and other stakeholders conducted dialogues with the boys and girls in attendance.

During the dialogues, as they delved into the social challenges impacting the children of Manenberg, 13-year-old Zainab Williams* recounted a harrowing experience. She vividly described witnessing a woman being shot and killed during a drive-by shooting.

“I saw this lady die in front of me, I went home afterwards as if nothing happened. I wish the violence could stop,” she pleaded. Manenberg is a community on the Cape Flats plagued by gang-related violent crimes and drug abuse.

Crime statistics from July to September 2023 of the 2023/24 financial year revealed an alarming 18.6% surge in murder cases within the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP). LEAP operates in various regions, including Manenberg, Delf, Gugulethu, Harare, Khayelitsha, Kraaifontein, Mfuleni, Phillipi East, Samora Machel, and Nyanga. Additionally, areas such as Lavender Hills, Bishop Lavis, and Atlantis are identified as other high-crime zones.

Manenberg is the home to the notorious Hard Livings, Americans and Clever Kids gangs. “We brought this programme here so you can have a day to be children and to remind you that your dreams are valid, do not let your circumstances define your future” said Dr Bogopane-Zulu.

When the children were asked if they had lost anyone they knew because of the violence in the area, more than half the room raised their hands most of them having lost an uncle, close friend, mother or grandfather.

Vanessa Andriaase, founder of Mothers4Justice, thanked the Deputy Minister for visiting Manenberg again and she said: “We feel our community is forgotten and such programmes do not reach our children. Programmes such as ChommY have the potential to change the narrative for the boys and girls sitting in this hall.”

ChommY is a Social and Behavioural Change (SBC) programme for boys and girls between 10 to 14 years old.

The programme allows children to develop a personal plan for their lives and emphasises the importance of support from parents and communities to enable young people to make informed decisions.

The programme forms part of a basket of SBC programmes offered by the Department of Social Development.

PICTURE BY MAKHOSAZANA MAVUSO

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