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No time to rest – the work starts on youth desks

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Waking up each morning to the bitter chill outside, I always ponder how to defer, even for a few minutes, getting out from under my warm blankets.

Yes, the winter chill bites to the marrow. But then Benjamin Disraeli’s remonstration always wins this internal morning dispute.

Contemplating the essence of life during the 18th century, he noted that Britons lived in “an age when to be young and to be indifferent can no longer be synonymous”.

“We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the Future are represented by suffering millions; and the Youth of a Nation are the trustees of Posterity.”

Two centuries down the line, this observation is stirringly relevant.

As we get to the hustle and bustle of commemorating Youth Month, we must pause and think hard about how best to secure the future of our youth – the trustees of posterity.

Transformation lies within their hands, and this is the group that has the power to change and shape the world.

This is evident when we look back at changes that were made by the first ANC Youth League leader, Nelson Mandela, and the 1976 Soweto uprisings demanding a better education.

Even in the present day the youth still face challenges, although they are of a different kind. They range from HiV/Aids to teenage pregnancy to unemployment, to name but a few.

HIV/Aids poses the greatest threat. According to Simon Green, an eHow contributing writer, HIV/Aids is not only an expensive problem in terms of the burden imposed via the supply of ARVs, but it further compromises youths’ attempts to be part of the mainstream economy.

This then indicates the correlation between the challenges that are faced by our youth. Wherever there is unemployment, crime is almost certain to follow.

People with no jobs turn to illegal methods to gain money to survive.

In an attempt to empower youth in the province, the Gauteng Department of Community Safety, with the South African Police Service, has established youth crime prevention desks which are located at various police stations.

The youth desks consist of young people from youth organisations, schools and the general public.

The core objective of these youth desks is to improve co-operation between police and youth in the fight against crime.

It also serves as a platform for the provision of developmental training for the youth.

Youth desks also improve and deepen public participation in decision-making among young people.

Active youth members assist in identifying youth safety challenges, and they develop and implement relevant projects to address these issues.

Youth desks were originally established in 1994, under the umbrella of Youth Against Crime.

To date, there are 95 active crime prevention youth desks in Gauteng.

These youth desks get resources and training which enable them to design and implement social crime prevention programmes addressing crime challenges in their area.

Young people are engaged through seminars and izimbizos in finding solutions to crime challenges within the province.

In the current financial year, an additional 600 young people will be placed on the National Youth Service (NYS) programme through the Department of Infrastructure Development and deployed at police stations to implement social crime prevention projects.

These young people will be capacitated through an accredited social crime prevention training programme.

Our country has the opportunity to transform its wealth into sustainable livelihoods for its population, particularly the youth.

Let us all rally behind them and support their programme.

This can be done through extensive collaboration between the government and various emerging sectors.

l Faith Mazibuko is the MEC for Community Safety in Gauteng


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