Zero tolerance for guns — Mpophomeni’s peace pilot

2008-03-29 00:00

HISTORICALLY violent Mpophomeni township just outside Howick was declared a “gun-free zone” by Gun Free South Africa yesterday.

Lihle Cwinya-ai, co-ordinator of Gun Free SA, expressed her desire to rid the area of firearms, particularly in schools and taverns.

The plan was launched at the Zenzeleni Community Project in Mpophomeni.

The idea is the brainchild of community leaders Fakazile Mchunu and Bonginkosi Ndlovu.

“Gun-free zone” signs will be put up at taverns and schools and at the Zenzeleni Community Centre in the hope that they will serve as a deterrent to anyone carrying a gun into any of the establishments.

The township is in an unprecedented period of transition, with initiatives focusing on reconciliation and community building and support groups for HIV/Aids patients and local men established, but the area still has many illegal firearms.

“My wish is to have no more violence in this community, as well as throughout the rest of South Africa,” said Cwinya-ai.

She told Weekend Witness that Mpophomeni was one of the most violent areas prior to the 1994 elections and though violence has decreased dramatically since then, domestic violence, children carrying dangerous weapons to school and violence in taverns have been rife.

“This is a peace initiative,” she says.

“We want people to know that when they enter our peaceful establishment, they should do so gun free.

“All people at these establishments support peace and show zero tolerance towards guns,” says Ndlovu.

Cwinya-ai says a similar project was run in Richmond, and though there still are reports of violence there, the incidents have been dramatically reduced.

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