The death of a 17-year-old shook his group of friends so much that they decided to turn their backs on drugs, alcohol abuse and gangsterism and start a youth group.
The friends, from Statice Hei-ghts, in Kewtown, named their youth group after their friend, Deano van der Venter, who was stabbed to death on Thursday January 5.
Devastated by his death, his friends realised they had to make a positive change in their lives and approached community worker Amina Rajap, to help them.
“Deano’s death was an eye-opener for them. Some of them were on drugs, some were involved with gangs,” said Ms Rajap.
“I must add though, they are not angels, they do have some challenges they must overcome, but they are working on it. They just needed someone to believe in them. That is how the Deano van der Venter Youth Development group started.
“They are dedicating all their work to the memory of Deano van der Venter and all other youth who died in the community.”
On Saturday April 22, the group met to clean a field near Sage Crescent and Lilac Street, which they hope to use as a sports ground.
They’ve already started a soccer club, called the Unusuals.
Once the field – which was used for dumping and is filled with thorns – is properly cleaned, they hope to attract netball players as well.
They’ve also cleaned up other parts of Statice Heights over the past few weeks – and they do it all voluntarily.
“They want the community and the City of Cape Town to see the potential these fields hold, and they have already started to engage with Ward 49 councillor Shahid Adams.
“There are also two women, Asa Voegt, and Nabeelah Davids, who are motivating them. They are trying to get as many youths as possible to join them. The group has already attended a training workshop on leadership at the Edith Stevens Wetlands Park, and I am looking to get them on to more workshops,” Ms Rajap said.
“We are also fortunate in that Derek Oldjohn, from DJ Rigging, employed three of our youngsters already. My heart really goes out to these youngsters. One can see they truly want to make a change.”
Naasier Ismail, one of the group members, said they hope their cleaning efforts would pave the way for
a soccer and netball pitch on the field.
“We are hoping to get the help we need to make it a reality, but we won’t stop working for good,” he said.
Taariek Salie said they wanted to make the youth upliftment project a success.
“One of our youth group members started hanging out with us, because he realised we were not a bad influence. He comes from a hectic, violent background, but he changed his life.
“We are preparing for a friendly soccer tournament on Monday May 1, and we are appealing to the community to support us,” he said.
Ms Rajap also asked that the adults in the community support the initiatives of the youth and not view them in a negative light, as one was “never too bad to turn good”.