About 300 people attended a carols service at Manenberg police station on Sunday.
The event was organised by the station’s Youth Desk, the Manenberg Community Police Forum, and various spiritual leaders.
“We want the youth to feel special today,” said Manenberg police spokesman Captain Ian Bennett. “We want to show them care and kindness and hope that they will adopt the same mannerisms. We want them to know that they don’t have to fear us or run away from us when they see us. We want our young people to know that they can speak to us and that we are here for them.”
Children involved in crime got younger by the day, he said, adding that some parents used their children, some as young as 2, to hide drugs — sometimes in their nappies — when police raided their homes, thinking officers would not search their children.
The police would continue to reach out to communities to stop the scourge of violence, he said, adding that Manenberg residents wanted peace, joy, hope, and love for Christmas.
Pastor Ronald Page, from the Manenberg AFM Church, said the community needed a moment of joy to get them into the festive spirit.
“The gang violence in the area is really traumatising people. We want to bless them today and make them happy. There are so many children here this afternoon. The community loves these types of events,” he said.
Estwynn Malgas, 32, a youth leader of the Father’s House Church, said parents should teach their children to use their abilities for good so that they could grow up to be positive role models who did not end up being exploited by gangs.
“As a youth, I either feared the police or didn’t trust them, and we want to change that for youth today. With police fighting crime and churches fighting crime spiritually, it has to have a positive effect. I know that when youth leave here today their lives will not be the same,” he said.