Cape Town – About 200 residents from across Cape Town joined an interfaith march through the streets of Athlone yesterday, calling for an end to gangsterism and crime across the province.
Religious leaders, including Professor Allan Boesak, Imam Rashid Omar and Reverend Chris Nissan, plus Avril Andrews from Moms for Justice Peace and Reconciliation, announced their plan for united action towards safe, secure and peaceful livelihoods for working-class communities with its Cape Flats Interfaith Declaration at the Joseph Stone Auditorium.
The initiative stemmed from a series of inter-faith dialogues convened by the Service and Allied Workers Union of SA (Sawusa) which was held in Bonteheuwel over the past three months.
Sawusa president Wilfred Alcock said: “We believe faith leaders can be critical players in responding to the cries of distressed communities and in rebuilding humanity and harmony in communities ravaged by all sorts of violence and social decay.
“This initiative aims to galvanise faith leaders into greater action.”
The march came a day after six-year-old Nathlia Pienaar was killed in Lavender Hill, while her uncle was left wounded during the same shooting.
Police spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana said police were investigating a case of murder and attempted murder.
“Steenberg police are investigating cases subsequent to a shooting incident that occurred (on Saturday) about 9.50am. According to the available information, a 24-year-old man was shot at by unidentified suspects.
“A six-year-old girl was playing outside when she was hit by a stray bullet. Both victims were transported to hospital for treatment where the girl later died due to her injuries.”
At yesterday’s gathering, keynote speaker Boesak said Cape Town communities have “had enough of the destruction of hopes and dreams and the destruction of our children” and called on politicians to take responsibility.
“Gangsters are the small minority with guns. Politicians should stop hiding behind each other. Ward councillors hide behind the City, the City hides behind provincial government and they hide behind national government.
“We know that there are good policemen out there, but there are also those in cahoots and accepting bribes. Enough of that. This must also be the end of our own indifference.
“Why can’t we form one united organisation and march to Parliament and show them we are united in this call? There are forces out there that live for our communities’ fragmentation.”
In the declaration by the interfaith leaders, a plan of action was highlighted.
“The plan of action will be implemented with the overall co-ordination of Sawusa and with active contribution by the religious community both materially and organisationally.
"To act along the following line: restoration, prevention, refuge and counselling, advocacy and community development,” the declaration reads.
“The socio-economic challenges of poverty, joblessness, hunger, landlessness, inferior public education, overburdened health care and limited social services are among the underlying causes of social ills facing the people.
"The only method that can be applied at immunising distressed communities is united action driven by the people for the people,” the declaration adds.