Faith-based groups marched to the Castle of Good Hope last week, calling for peace and an end to gang violence on the Cape Flats.
About 50 people gathered at St George’s Cathedral on Wednesday August 29. They carried placards calling for respect, dignity, tolerance and an end to discrimination.
When they reached the castle, the marchers released seven white pigeons to underscore their call for peace.
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) deputy president, Maulana Abdul Khaliq Ebrahim Allie, said faith leaders wanted citizens to love and build a South Africa based on fundamental principles of peace, human dignity and respect.
Police deployment, he said, should match each neighbourhood’s needs.
“We need to find out where the need is for a greater deployment of the police. We need to understand what is happening in our communities. We are standing here to create hope for our country and as faith leaders we will guide our people,” he said.
Ebrahim Floris, who has lived in Hanover Park for 45 years, said he had once been able to walk about his neighbourhood, but it was no longer safe to do so.
Gangsterism and crime were on the rise and they would continue to grow until more opportunities were created for the community.
Sports fields, for example, should be improved to draw children into sport, away from the pull of the gangs, he said.
“The amount of schools after 45 years has remained the same as well as all the amenities. There are 80% more people in the area but it remains the same.
“People are living in horrible conditions. Gangsterism will only be eradicated with knowledge. They need jobs. They turn to gangsterism because they don’t have jobs or money for food.”
Apartheid had dumped people on the Cape Flats, and Mr Floris said he feared they would remain there in ever deteriorating conditions.
“Even our mosques are overcrowded — a mosque that has a capacity for maybe 300 people is overcrowded with thousands of people. Our area needs a revamp. Overcrowding leads to many things and without that being eradicated nothing will change,” he said.
Bishop Templeton Mbekwa, the national chairperson of the South African Religious Forum, said there was hope for the country but people needed to support the principles of peace and love.
“We are taking this to the hot spots: Lavender Hill, Delft, Hanover Park, and Manenberg. And we will spread peace there in the midst of the gangsterism. Our women are not safe. We need to ensure their safety and put an end to gangsterism,” he said.