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MIcheal Rhodes
 
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The Cape Flats

13 March 2014, 18:00

Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend. Whether or not he did so in cold intentionally is still to be adjudicated on. Fact remains Oscar Pistorius shot and killed his girlfriend and the world is going crazy about it. I am sad for the victim and her family, but this article speaks not about them. One thing stuck in my mind when listening to witness testimony, the sound of the gunshot is in dispute. The reason why the latter stuck with me is that in the Cape Flats, people hear gunshots on a daily basis. This article is about them, also citizens of this country, but I have to concede, the most failed citizens of this country.

Today this article speaks about them. Today I write this article, not as a member of the ANC, but as a concerned citizen. Allow me to take the following out of dispute:

·        The ANC failed the people in the Cape flats; that is why we lost votes and confidence of these people. This article is not to get your votes, as I can offer no argument as to why you should trust the men in government ever again;

·        You have voted DA as an alternative for the ANC, but they have failed you too. Walking around in the Cape flats will be evident of that.

Whilst everybody stands in shock about the Oscar killings, 3 more people were gunned down in the Cape flats, a 31 year old woman, a 12 year old girl and 15 year old boy. These victims were not part of any gang, but they were gunned down. Save for their families and people in their community no one really cares, we are too shocked for Reeva. Most people will not even know about their faith, yet they are also citizens of South Africa and deserve equal protection under law as people living in Houghton and Clifton.

Three more killing and sadly not the last of them. The victims above, the youngest of which are 12 is not the youngest victim caught in gang crossfire. Most of us did not know that, why? The shooters were not Oscar, the victims were not rich and there were no racial connotations attached to their deaths. In the eyes of the media therefore, that does not make for good news. Sad thing about this, throughout the political spectrum the blame will be shifted and short sighted solutions will be tendered, all of which are nothing than mere politicking and in my eyes an insult to the people of the Cape flats.

One of the most popular solutions are; deploy the military in the Cape flats (oppositions has called for that):

·        This to me is disingenuous and does little to root out the problem at hand. This is also very well-articulated in our Constitution, where section 200(2) for example provides that: The primary object of the defence force is to defend and protect the Republic, its territorial integrity and its people in accordance with the Constitution and the principles of international law regulating the use of force.

·        The subsection above confirms that military within the borders of our country should not be permitted. The military have a very different mandate than the police. It will not remedy the problem and there are very strict measures which ought to be followed prior to military deployment within the borders.

·        Yet, politicians will have you believe that this is the solution. It is not, the very same politicians will not tell you that a couple of years ago the military patrolled (wrongfully so) the streets of the Cape. It did not help, today the gang violence continues.

·        Last thing about this, I had the fortunate advantage of travelling the world. I’ve been to Gaza recently and until you have been in countries where the military roam the streets, you will never understand my opposition thereto.

Another popular solution is to bring back the specialised gang units. This, I have to concede may be a noble idea, but it will not do much to stop gangs. My problem with this is; I went to Compton in California two years back. There are so many similarities between that place and the Cape flats. The gangs differ, but the game is played the same and even the victims are the same. Thing about America is, they have specialised police units and it does little to deter these gangs, same in Mexico.

I have said it in some of my other articles, I am a layman. I do not have the same education as most of you and I’m certain of the fact that in your comments you will remind me of that fact. Notwithstanding my education or lack thereof, I believe that the solution in the Cape flats is glaring us in the face, whilst we play politics. The solution to this gang violence is simple, but it is not a hour fix. You may disagree with me, but unless we remedy the socio economic circumstances (the latter which has been overlooked for too long) of the people in the Cape flats, the gang violence will remain fir years to come.

It is sad to see how people there live, so long into a democracy. That is why I can tender no argument as to why these people should vote ANC. It is also the same reason why I cannot see why they vote DA, but like I said; this is not a political article.

None of these two parties can hide their failure. I say this as a member of the ANC, we failed the people from the Cape flats and my apologies will serve as no solace to you. We together with the DA in their capacity as government of the Western Cape are equally to blame, as we ignore your socio economic circumstances, the latter which are unconstitutional. I will tender no excuse thereto, as there is none.

The failure as mentioned herein above is unconstitutional. I say this because the duty of the state (including local government in this case the DA) is set out in Section 7(2) of the constitution which provide that the state have a duty to respect, protect and promote these socio economic circumstances. This has not been done. Why not? Do we think so little of these people that we allow the current status quo and that it only shocks us close to elections?

Why has so little been done to change the socio economic circumstances in the Cape flats? You may not agree with me that the socio economic circumstances in the Cape flats is the direct cause of gangsterism there, but then you will have to provide an answer as to why we do not see gangsters running around in the streets of Houghton.

How many of these gangsters are engineering graduates? How many of them have any bachelor’s degrees? Why is it that a kid from the Cape flats with an average matric certificate will not go to university and become an engineer, but some average rich kid will?

I believe if we can change that, if government can work pro-actively on that, gang violence will stop. The problem with this is, it is not a 24 hour fix and for similar reasons why the media does not report on gang killings as much as they report on Oscar, is because fixing a current problem with a long term solution, does not make a good election campaign and in the meantime the killings continue.

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