Interfaith meet in unfinished ‘red zone’ park

The children line up at the jumping castle.

Members of faith-based organisations hosted a community safety awareness initiative at Phillans Park in Hanover Park this past weekend.

The interfaith gathering, co-ordinated by the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), the Hanover Park Society, and Islamic Relief South Africa (IRSA) among others, aimed to address the rampant issues of crime in the area.

“Crime, especially gangsterism, affects us all,” said programme co-ordinator and MJC member Moulana Tahaa Rodrigues.

“Not only Muslims, but non-Muslims are affected too. It’s about time we work together to take ownership of our streets and community.”

Phillans Park, also known as the Jungle Park, was earmarked for an upgrade by the City of Cape Town last year, but construction workers left the site in August and never returned.

“Jungle Park was declared a red zone because gangsters are always shooting across the park,” Mr Rodrigues said.

“Two months ago, the construction workers who were tasked with building a state-of-the-art recreational park for our children, downed tools and never returned because their lives were in danger. These are adults we’re speaking about. What about children who are meant to use the park? What’s the use government invests in our areas for lavish parks but children cannot make use of the facilities? The issue of gangsterism must be addressed first.”

The community safety awareness programme started on Friday October 27, where religious leaders hosted motivational talks, an address by ward councillor Antonio van der Rheede, the Community Police Forum (CPF) and the Newfields Neighbourhood Watch.

The programme ran from 10am on Saturday until Sunday at 3am. This initiative was to give children a chance to play freely without the threat of violence.

There were jumping castles, face-painting, netball and soccer matches as well as other games to entertain the youth.

Church choirs, Qasida groups and other entertainment was also available.

Residents had the option of camping out until 3am.

Religious leaders of Hanover Park called on IRSA to supply the children with party packs.

“As Islamic Relief we take particular interest in the well-being of children. We believe that all children have a right to personal dignity and protection from abuse, and recognise the special responsibility and duty of the community to create a safe environment for children,” said IRSA CEO, Yusuf Mohamed.

“It is essential for all community stakeholders to engage in proactive measures to protect children from physical, psychological and emotional harm. It is our sincere hope that this initiative will be the beginning of religious and community leaders playing a meaningful role
in developing and building the
community of Hanover Park,” he said.