Gangs need children in their ranks to expand their markets and their power. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)
Gangs need children in their ranks to expand their markets and their power. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Peace is possible in the Western Cape with the right strategy

By Brian Williams Time of article published Sep 19, 2019

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According to the 2019 statistics from the police, at least 14 children commit murder every month in the Western Cape.

The total killings by children a month in South Africa is a staggering 61. The data of 736 murders per annum by children during the reporting period, (April 2018 - March 2019) is alarming.

There is no doubt that many of these child murderers are child soldiers acting on the orders of crime bosses.

Last May, Community Chest hosted an international symposium about child soldiers at the UCT. Keynote speaker Dr Jino Mwaka, the rector of University of the Sacred Heart, Uganda, postulated that child soldiers existed on the Cape Flats. The University of the Sacred Heart is a peace university, formed in response to the Lords Resistance Army’s abduction of children during the civil war.

We have an atypical civil war on the Cape Flats where permanently armed groups fight for control of geographic economies. The differentiated civil war Cape Flats anomaly, lies in the fact that those who terrorise the communities, live there. Conventional civil wars usually have geographic separation between the insurgents and the state forces.

Warlords need to expand control of community economies and illegal trade relationships.

They are in constant conflict with competing armed groups, also seeking to expand their markets and their power. Non-state armed groups need children in their ranks, as part of their para-militaries. It is reasonable to deduce there are children at primary and high schools who are linked to non-state armed groups.

Primary and high schools on the Cape Flats have children who are addicted to drugs.

The drug and alcohol addiction of children is part of a necessary war strategy to dominate them, so that they become be zombified and weaponised.

The Western Cape is the murder province of South Africa. These killings are primarily on the Cape Flats.

The solutions lie in greater strategies of peace and conflict containment. The provincial government needs to have a provincial peace plan that integrates all the conflict preventative strategies needed to stop children from being drawn into a web of violence and criminality.

This falls within the domain of the provincial government and the City. These policies and strategies should be co-ordinated via a transversal macro-peace strategy.

Peace impacts should be measured, monitored and evaluated.

The responsibility of the national government is to ensure violence is contained and that those who are guilty are held accountable.

The persistent weaknesses within the national architecture as a result of corruption and inefficiencies has resulted in a near collapse of confidence in the state to act as the protector of the people. Our children are at risk and a single co-ordinated strategy is needed that combines, national, provincial and the City working with relevant stakeholders and experts to protect our children.

* Brian Williams is visiting professor in peace, Mediation and Labour Relations: University of the Sacred Heart, Gulu, Uganda. Chief executive: Williams Labour Law and Mediation.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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