Hanover Park’s children schooled in fear

Hanover Park parents staged a demonstration on the first day of school, calling for an end to gang violence.

The impact of daily shootings in Hanover Park since the start of the matric finals last year can be seen in Crystal High’s 69% matric pass rate, says the school’s governing body chairperson, Yaseen Johaar.

“Imagine having to go write exams while the shootings occur. This affected the matric results. We have noticed that since then there have been daily shootings in Hanover Park. I think it is safe to say that over the past two years, the shootings have only become worse. Sometimes up to 100 shots are fired at a time,” said Mr Johaar, who is also the secretary of the Philippi Community Police Forum.

When schools reopened on Wednesday January 17, a group of parents staged a demonstration, calling for an end to gang violence and for police patrols around all Hanover Park schools as children arrive and leave.

Roshan Arendse said fear was a daily part of life in the violence-plagued neighbourhood. Her 16-year-old son was robbed recently, and six years ago, another son was killed in gang violence. He was 18.

“It’s terrifying. Every day is a struggle. We can’t send our children to the shop. You also won’t see children walking to school without their parents – even if it’s a two-minute walk,” she said.

“The police only come out when someone has been shot dead. We need police visibility in the morning and the afternoon when the children make their way to or from school. I don’t think that is such a tall order… The situation is becoming sadder by the day, and we need help to put an end to it.”

Another resident, Mansoer Arendse, said: “You have to reprimand your child for playing outside. Our children can’t even play in the parks. It’s crazy. We feel like prisoners. We can’t send our children to the shop.

“I have grandchildren who are at school, and even going to school is taking a risk. It’s become a norm for teachers to say children must duck when there are shootings, but that is not part of the curriculum, and it shouldn’t be the norm,” he said.

Mr Arendse said their demonstration had done little to change the situation in Hanover Park, but it had drawn the attention of officials from the City of Cape Town and provincial government, who had agreed to a public meeting this week.

A Hallans Walk resident, who did not want to be named, said: “Our children have to run for their lives. They can’t play soccer outside. Our area is dark as the street lights are not working. We have complained about it to the City, but it hasn’t been fixed yet. Also, no police are patrolling.

“People are being robbed. My heart breaks for the pensioners who are robbed while waiting outside the Hanover Park day hospital. They are there at 5am already, but the security doesn’t want to allow them on the premises, and while they wait, they get robbed.”

Philippi police spokesperson Captain Lance Goliath said there had been sporadic shootings since the start of the new school year.

“We do have visibility around all the schools in Hanover Park. However, we unfortunately cannot be stationed at every school. This does not mean patrols do not happen. We do morning and afternoon patrols.”

He urged the community to download the MySAPS app, as it doesn’t require data to use, and it would make it easier to report crime and to rate the police’s level of service.

Call Philippi police at 021 690 1504 or Crime Stop at 08600 10111.

Rashieda Davids, Mansoer Arendse and Washiela Bassier joined the protest calling for peace and more police visibility.
Rhonda Morris was among those who protested.