Protest for peaceful place to play

Keziah Fortuin, 11, Zaib van der Berg, 11, Cleo Jasman, 11, and Tara Carelse, 12, had fun designing their home.

A Hanover Park woman mobilised parents and their children to stage a protest of a different kind – allowing children to play peacefully.

Ayesha Burgher said gang violence wreaked havoc on their daily lives. 

As a resident of Oribi Court for 23 years, she had thought back about how freely they could play “huisie huisie” as children many years ago. 

She then questioned why today’s children were not allowed the same joy. Often when they play outside, the children must run for cover when the shooting starts and things are especially vulnerable when it is school holidays. So, Ms Burgher spoke to some of her neighbours.

On Thursday, the children were encouraged to “build their own houses” outside their homes, and four teams took on the challenge – using toys and even household equipment.

They also wore banners around their necks, speaking out about the gang violence. They did all this under the watchful eyes of their parents.

Said Ms Burgher: “Gang violence is a challenge for us most of the time. It is so nice to just watch the children enjoy playing a game and decorating their ‘houses’. We could play in peace those years, why can’t our children be shown the same courtesy? It is the school holidays, so why can’t the children play? Why must we be kept prisoners in our homes?”

Zubeida Smith said they were a family of 13 who shared one-bedroomed flat, with no backyard.

“Our children need to play, but so many things can happen if my children must walk from here to play elsewhere.

The gang violence is so bad, that emergency services don’t want to come into the area without a police escort.

I could not get an ambulance to take my five-month-old baby to the hospital in the middle of the night, and had to wait until the next morning. With all this happening, I feel encouraged when I see how happy our children are to be able to play outside,” Ms Smith said.

Bahia Davids said government must take accountability for the lives being lost on the Cape
Flats.

“Where do the guns and bullets come from? There are so many laws and conditions if one wants to acquire a legal gun, why is it so easy for gangsters to get it? We must really look at the root of the problem,” Ms Davids said.