South Africa

Western Cape

How will you keep our children safe, Elsies River residents ask Premier Winde

How will you keep our children safe, Elsies River residents ask Premier Winde
Archive Photo: Alan Winde and members of his provincial cabinet Albert Fritz and Sharna Fernandez in Elsies River on 12 November 2019, discussing his safety plan. (Photo: Suné Payne)

What will Western Cape Premier Alan Winde’s Safety Plan do to keep children in Elsies River away from gangsterism and crime, residents asked during an information session. In the end, Winde again made his position clear: ‘If we don’t manage, I must stand on that red carpet and the voters must decide.’

Yesterday our kids saw the Boks, our kids can be in the Boks tomorrow —there was a Siya Kolisi, there might be a Siya Kolisi in Uitsig, in Clarkes Estate,” said Charmaine Barnes, a resident of Uitsig. On Tuesday, Western Cape premier Alan Winde hosted an information session on his Safety Plan in Elsies River, where Barnes questioned what was being done to keep children off the streets and taking part in sport and cultural activities.

About 70 people, comprised mainly of neighbourhood watch members, community workers and the local community policing forum, listened as most of the emphasis of the meeting was on keeping children safe and away from gangsterism, crime and drugs.

Residents want Alan Winde and his Cabinet to focus on keeping young people away from gangsterism in Elsies River. (Photo: Suné Payne)

There are no activities, no sports, no after-school,” said Barnes, who wanted to know what was to be done to keep the children out of harm’s way from drugs and crime — with good reason. The Elsies River community, a mere 19km outside the city centre, is still reeling from the brutal execution-style killing of three children and a teenager on 17 September, with a further two women seriously injured in a suspected gang attack in Clarkes Estate, Elsies River.

During the 2018/2019 crime statistics reporting period, there were 90 murders reported at the Elsies River police station. Additionally, Elsies River is one of 10 areas where the South African National Defence Force is deployed, due to the area’s high rate of crime and gangsterism.

But on Tuesday, most of the points raised by residents were on what the premier and his team could do to keep the streets of Elsies River safe for children.

Read in Daily Maverick: Western Cape is the most dangerous place for children”.

To live in Elsies River, it is like you are living in hell, it’s like you can rather go to prison because you are being burgled, in your house, you have to put big gates up, it’s worse, but it’s still your place. Our whole area is a hot spot,” said Daniel du Plessis, the secretary of the Elsies River Community Policing Forum. Du Plessis told Daily Maverick that people in the area are often robbed or held at gunpoint by criminals.

MEC for Social Development Sharna Fernandez told the audience:

People, we can’t go on like this, we are losing an entire generation to drugs.” She said that communities and religious organisations needed to work with all three spheres of government for a common goal — “a safer, healthier Western Cape”.

Fernandez said of Winde’s ambitious Safety Plan: “Every single minister has a safety target.”

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde discusses his safety plan at the Elsies River Civic Centre on 12 November 2019. (Photo: Suné Payne)

Hers, as announced by Winde during the launch of the plan on 19 September, was to be responsible for “identifying, profiling and supporting youth at risk of violent or criminal behaviour”.

She will also be responsible to deliver parenting programmes with a focus on reducing violence, gender-based violence and substance abuse, which have been shown to work in other areas around the world,” said Winde.

Additionally, Fernandez is responsible for looking into interventions that keep families together.

Cultural Affairs and Sports MEC Anroux Marais is responsible for additional after-school programmes to reach at-risk youth.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said that when he grew up in Hanover Park, he and his friends would be at the community centre, taking part in activities. Partly answering Barnes question, he said: “We need to get our kids into these centres.”

But it was Winde who had the last say, again putting his head on the block should he not halve murder rates in the province over the next decade:

If we don’t manage, I must stand on that red carpet and the voters must decide.” DM


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