Police Minister Bheki Cele Photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town – "It means nothing. Even if he spends one night in Manenberg, so what?"

This was the response to Police Minister Bheki Cele's promise to spend a night in Manenberg to supposedly witness the criminal ongoings residents are complaining about first-hand. Cele added that "I will join you, but not when it is too cold and secondly, there will have to be breyani".

"He is going to come there in his cushy car and be protected and then he goes away again and the realities remain.

"People are so tired of all the stories," said Gloria Oliver of Samekoms (Coming Together), which represents different communities on the Cape Flats – Bonteheuwel, Manenberg, Heideveld, Hanover Park and Zeekoevlei – and is driving an initiative called "Balls not guns".

"It's the same with churches who go out and evangelise; they plant false seeds of hope. They do the feel-good thing and then they leave and people are back to where they were."

In response to the killing spree on the Cape Flats at the weekend, Cele visited Manenberg yesterday, where he heard about a group, Taking Back The Streets, who have been hosting all-night vigils, camping in public spaces between the turf of local gangs to prevent shootings. He was handed a memorandum calling for, among others, more trained police officers.

Oliver believes collaborative partnerships hold the key and that decisions made in "Eiffel Towers" are not the answer to address a crime problem that has its roots in joblessness and poverty. 

"Whatever we do has to be sustainable and it has to be through partnerships and programmes that we run."

Oliver, whose organisation is establishing partnerships to help develop and uplift communities, is also not a fan of talk shops that lead nowhere, especially when the decisions are made at the "Eiffel Towers" Parliament and Luthuli House represent to the man in the street.

"I said this to Gwede Mantashe (former ANC secretary-general) a few years ago, it's all good and well to have your Eiffel Towers at like Luthuli House, to which you summon people and make decisions that affect the entire nation, like with China, for example, but how does it affect the poor in communities?

"Rather come into our communities and say this our proposal and this is how we plan to eradicate crime and poverty. 

"There is a man called Marcus Solomon, an ex-Robben Islander, who works with kids and communities and so on. He said to me one day our best teachers are the people living in the communities. 

"We mustn't assume because we have degrees or we have some kind off knowledge that we can tell people about how to handle their situation.

"We must listen to what they are saying and then look at what we are able to bring, and together find a solution. The arrogant politicians, the arrogant churches, I don't think they are listening to the hearts of people. They are hearing what they want and want to dictate what must happen.

"If you listen to mothers and you ask what is the problem, they say it's that we can't protect our children; we can't feed our children because there is no work and we are scared to walk in the street because our lives are in danger.

"A child, asked what his dream was, said: Ek het nog nooit ball gespeel met my pa nie (I've never played with a ball with my dad).

"The things that people want are not big things, but it has become big things. So I really believe it's about us coming together in partnerships."