Having police on the roads during school holidays might help keep children safe from being caught in the middle of violent gang wars, said Manenberg Crisis Forum chairperson Roegshanda Pascoe. Picture: Willem Law/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cape Town - With school holidays in the province starting on Friday, children are once again at risk of being caught in the crossfire of gangsters roaming the streets.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said: “It is a fact that SAPS is woefully under- resourced in the Western Cape.

“This is not a new problem and, to address the shortcomings of what is a national government competency, the City has, since 2006, introduced a number of measures to shore up defences against the growing gang problem - the City’s Metro Police Gang and Drug Task Team, K9 and equestrian units, Tactical Response Unit and Stabilisation Unit are deployed on extended shifts in gang hot spots like Hanover Park, Manenberg and Delft.”

Gang violence in every area in the Western Cape is rife during the holidays due to a lack of policing, said Roegshanda Pascoe, chairperson for Manenberg Crisis Forum.

“One way of keeping kids safe during the holidays would be to have a safe house on every street where kids in the road can play, because we really cannot keep the young ones cooped up at home during the vacation.

“I know that Moms Move for Justice, which is a support group in Hanover Park, will be having an after-school programme where kids can come and play games in a safe environment.

“They also have a feeding scheme, so the kids can have something to eat during the day while their parents are working.”

She said having police visibility in the roads as kids play their games would also help to keep them safe from harm.

“There is no guarantee that implementing these things will keep the kids safe, but if each community member plays a role in watching over these children, then there will be a positive change in the overall environment.”

Mayoral committee member for community services and health Zahid Badroodien said children should be left in the care of a responsible and trustworthy adult while their parents are at work.

“The City also runs programmes at our libraries and other community facilities during the holidays, so this, too, is an option to keep children occupied in a constructive manner.”

A teacher from Mount View Secondary School in Hanover Park Avenue said: “As a parent, I am concerned about all the shootings and violence that children in the area are exposed to.

“It is amazing how the pupils at school know every gangster’s name, their hideouts and all their activities.

“Parents are concerned about their children being killed, so even if there are after-school programmes in the area, parents would not want their kids to go there because it would be dangerous for them, so kids just end up playing Playstation at home.”

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