PLAYGROUND: Manenberg children in a park. It will take a decade to implement a plan to change, according to Premier Helen Zille. Picture: Phando Jikelo/ANA Pictures

Cape Town - The fruits of the Western Cape government’s bold plan to improve gang-ravaged Manenberg will only be seen in the next 10 years, Premier Helen Zille said.

She was speaking at a meeting of the Western Cape Legislature’s standing committee where she and her department presented its annual report for 2016/2017.

“I have been doing many readings. The Shot-spotter system gave me a very worrying picture. There was in one week 100 gang shootings in the heart of Manenberg. That is equivalent to a civil war in that society. 

“We’re pumping in millions into the area to try and fix it. We are planning to restructure Manenberg. We will only see the fruits of it in 10 years.

“We are protecting young people from being sucked into the gang system.”

Zille was responding to a question from ANC MPL Cameron Dugmore who asked about the province’s strategy for the youth.

“We previously had the Bambanani School Safety programme. When we look at the Game Changers like the Alcohol Harms reduction... why is there not an integrated approach with youth?” he asked. 

Zille responded: “Everything has to work according to the constitution and the law. Most of our game changers focus on the areas where we do have power. We spend large amounts of money to integrate the youth into the economy. It’s the best antidote to get them out (of gangs).” 

In 2015 the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape government unveiled bold plans to transform Manenberg, one of the most volatile areas in the city, and uplift the community. Residents were promised a R3 billion “skyscraper” medical facility as part of the plan to urbanise the area through the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading project.

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Government plans on building a youth lifestyle campus comprised of six precincts that will include education facilities and student residences, sport facilities and “green open spaces” that are linked. 

The plans also highlight the development of a “safe pedestrian and cycle network” as well as the “enhancement of buildings”.

Roegshanda Pascoe of the Manenberg Safety Forum said the community needs greater engagement with authorities. 

“We have asked for many additions and that plans be amended because the community felt it would not fit. It seems though the authorities has its own plans already.”

Zille said: “Young people need an alternative to alcohol and drugs. We need to put them on a path of opportunity.”

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Cape Argus