Religious leaders have met with residents and organisations in Manenberg to discuss ways to end gang violence.
The meeting with Manenberg Ministers’ Fraternal was held at Lily Ministries church on Tuesday November 10, and it was agreed that gang leaders would need to be drawn into the discussions.
On Sunday November 15, the fraternal also led a prayer march through the streets of Manenberg.
Pastor Winston Fouten said the community could not wish gangsters away.
“The gangsters live among us and are part of the community. This is why we all need to sit around the table to talk. I believe people who are hurt, end up hurting other people,” Mr Fouten said.
Community worker Jonathan Jansen said gang violence was just one form of violence in the area.
“We need to ask ourselves how we are going to deal with the root causes. However, I am happy that we are moving from a reactive to a pro-active approach and I am excited that churches are leading this,” Mr Jansen said.
He also told the meeting that many children had not returned to school with the easing of lockdown.
That, he said, was because they were either afraid of getting caught in the crossfire, or their interest in school had waned after being at home for months.
Bronwyn February said work around keeping the peace in Manenberg should be constant.
“Gangsterism is a deep issue and won’t be eradicated easily,” she said.
Tara September agreed with her, saying that sustainability was a long-term project, and not a once-off event.
“Manenberg is over-populated with more than 200 000 residents. Our community is broken and we need healing. I am also appealing to all organisations to stop with competitiveness so that we can all work together for the greater good.”
Patsy Daniels also agreed, saying there were no quick-fixes, and that the circumstances demanded holistic planning and efforts.
Jermaine Visagie said the community needed to invest in young people so that they could explore their talents and not get caught up in gangsterism.
Ward 46 councillor Aslam Cassiem said the community should work together despite their differences, if real change was to happen.
“Everyone is operating in their own vacuum, and we need to work together and utilise each others strengths. The children are our future and the government won’t solve our problems for us,” he said.
A small group of people who attended the meeting volunteered to join Ronald Snipper, known as Manenberg’s negotiator, when he goes to meet with gang leaders.
Mr Snipper, also known as Uncle Errol among the locals, cautioned though, that change was only possible when individuals wanted to make their change themselves.
He said dysfunctional family units, lack of skills development and having no alternatives were root causes of gangsterism.