The government was using kragdadigheid and instilling fear into our community by sending in the army, says Samekoms. Photo: Supplied

Cape Town – Samekoms has rejected the government's decision to send the army into communities on the Cape Flats.

"Activists from the communities of Bontas (Bonteheuwel), Tjatjies (Manenberg) and Heideveld met on Friday night to reflect on the government decision to send the army into our communities," said Samekoms, which proposes alternative measures to address the violence on the Cape Flats, in a statement.

Their meeting noted the following:

1. The government was using kragdadigheid and instilling fear into our community by sending in the army.

2. Decisions are being taken for the community without the communities' participation in the decision. We say "Nothing about us without us!".

3. The government is increasing policing as a solution whilst failing to address the socio-economic conditions under which our people live daily.

4. The government has in the past had the ability to detain, harass and victimised activists who stood up for people's rights but is surprisingly unable to bring to book those responsible for the violence in our communities.

They have proposed alternative ways to address the violence, which they are already undertaking in their communities, which include: 

1. Women have started a process of engaging with the gangs to start addressing alternatives to the violence.

2. We are rolling out the Balls not Guns and Bread not Bullets initiatives in our communities which focusses on alternatives to violence.

3. Building partnerships between the government and communities.

4. Bringing together and uniting community organisations and people striving towards building safe communities.

5. Addressing the root causes of crime, namely the socio-economic conditions under which we live.

6. Addressing the inequalities between the rich and the poor as it is the indigenous poor who are killing each other whilst the foreign rich live in luxury.

7. Exploring land restoration as we remain displaced and need to return to the land. This includes reparations of R1 million for each person.

Samekoms told the Cape Times earlier this week they would rather have the army partner communities in a non-militarised role, assisting in development and upliftment rather than only succeeding in exercising "short-term control". 

They have reached out to the army in this regard and are awaiting a response, said Gloria Oliver, of Samekoms (Coming Together), which represents different communities on the Cape Flats – Bonteheuwel, Manenberg, Heideveld, Hanover Park and Zeekoevlei.

Highlighting that "South Africa has always responded in a violent way to all our problems", Oliver said they are looking for partnerships with the army in programmes, for example, which will enable them to occupy the youth proactively through sport and nature activities, which is something largely foreign to youths "living in concentration camps".

Gatto Wanza, from Samekoms, added: "We need to talk about how do we use the land that is in the hands of the state and the army to conduct programmes where people are in touch with nature?"

Due to the "economic situation" being at the root of the problem, an initiative has also been launched, "Balls not guns", to address the fact that there are too many guns on the streets.

"All that some people are promoting is more violence. The army coming in is terrorising a community that already lives in fear. So we don't believe the army policing the community is going to solve the problem," said Wanza.

Cape Times