“Enough is enough! Our kids are dying in our streets. For how long must we allow this mess to continue in our communities?” said Community Safety MEC Dan Plato in Athlone last week.
Men and women from several communities plagued by gang violence attended the Women’s Safety Outreach programme hosted by Mr Plato at the Dulcie September civic centre on Wednesday August 31 to honour women, create awareness of the dangers they face and explore the role they play in stopping gang violence.
Mr Plato said mothers were key to keeping children out of crime.
“We try to stop the violence, but it continues. Parents need to raise the alarm when they suspect that their children are getting involved in gangsterism and drug-related activities. Many parents don’t like others to reprimand their children, but the day their child dies, they expect you to say something at their child’s grave, but then it’’s too late,” said Mr Plato.
He said that once mothers changed their attitudes, communities would change.
“A mother always knows her children, especially her boys. She knows their rights and wrongs. In 95 percent of cases, you ask a mother about the involvement of her children, but they will never admit it,” he said.
Women were courageous, but they should use that same courage to go back home and speak to their children about what they were doing.
“If your son is a hitman, he is a killer, a hitman is a beautiful name for a killer. If your son has a gun in the house and you say nothing about it, you are agreeing with what he is doing. Drugs and gangs are ripping our communities apart,” said Mr Plato.
“Our sons die like flies every day. The question is: what else we must do to rid our community of drugs and gangs? Beautiful young people are killing other people.”
The solution to gangsterism could be found in the home, said Mr Plato.
“It starts with you in your home, with your kids and how you raise them. Our children want decent jobs but they are not in schools. Our children must be educated.”
Finance MEC Ivan Meyer reminded women of their important role in society.
“Women play multiple roles in society and sometimes it is scary. While they are driving, they apply make-up, text, listen to the radio, and even sing along. This shows the functionality of a woman in particular. They do it because women often put their families first and themselves last, so the only time they get to themselves is in the car.
“As we celebrate Women’s Month, we celebrate the maturity of women.”
The men at the event pledged to honour the women in their lives and lead by example, to take a stand against violence and help break the cycle of abuse.
The women then each lit a candle and acknowledged all those killed in gang violence.
They vowed to rememeber their worth in the community and take a stand against crime.
Soraya Samson, 49, from the Manenberg Helping Hands Organisation, said: “I would like to start a support group in my community for the parents and children who are on drugs. I am very impressed with Mr Plato, he spoke from his heart as a father, not a minister.”