Witness: Khayelitsha kids adapt to crime

2014-02-07 13:35
Khayelitsha (File)

Khayelitsha (File) (Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Police
    A 'behind the scenes' look at how the emergency services work. Now R310.00
    buy now

Cape Town - Children in Khayelitsha have had to adapt to keep themselves safe from crime and violence, a local man told the commission of inquiry into alleged police inefficiency on Friday.

Testifying at the commission, Sifiso Zitwana said there was a widely accepted belief that one was either a victim or one who defended oneself.

Zitwana, 23, a Social Justice Coalition (SJC) member, said he was used to violence because he had grown up witnessing mob justice.

He said children did not ask questions about what was happening and either threw stones or helped to trip someone up when they heard shouts of "Hold him".

Police usually only arrived on the scene when residents had already assaulted a suspected criminal, and this had resulted in a loss of trust in the police.

‘I started getting used to situation’

He told the commission about a road he and his friends had to use to get to school, which was unsafe because gangs of boys would lay in wait.

"When going to school, these boys would take away whatever you had, but if walking in a group they would just swear at you."

He did not recall ever seeing a police van patrolling the road and the children had developed their own strategies to avoid being robbed.

The children would walk in large groups. Zitwana would hide his lunch money in his socks or make a hole in his trousers.

"In the beginning, I was scared of going to school but as time went by I started getting used to the situation.

"It was a situation we had to accept. If you didn't accept it, you had to stay at home and not go to school."

Adapt to survive

Zitwana said he had to raise his two younger brothers, Sibusiso and Thabane, and nephew Nthando, by himself.

They too had to adapt to survive what was seen as a violent and unsafe community.

It was not long before they joined the "Vuras" gang in Greenpoint, Khayelitsha, to gain protection from the rival "Vatos".

"They joined because if you live in one area you belong to one group. They were using pangas and very big, sharp objects."

Thabani Masuku, for the police, asked whether they had joined a gang specifically because they couldn't rely on police.

"I'm not sure whether I can say they don't trust police but when you watch their activities you can see they don't trust police."

Sibusiso was a leader in the gang.

‘Police arrived too late’

Zitwana said the rival gang arrived at their house while he was out one evening and he got a call from Sibusiso saying he was hiding nearby and that Ntando and Thabane were hiding under the bed in the house.

He rushed to the house and by that stage the gang outside had assaulted someone returning from work.
The police were not yet on the scene and residents had gathered in a group.

"When the police van came through, the residents were angry because they were taking their time and these gangsters wanted to kill our children," he said.

The officers apparently got out the van, looked where the attack had taken place, and then got back into the van to chase the gang.

"The police didn't ask me questions or take a statement," Zitwana said.

The boys were eventually sent to their deceased mother's home in the Eastern Cape because it was the only way to keep them safe, even though they would be living alone.

‘Thieves protect against other thieves’

He said the quickest way to get help in the area was not to call the police but to scream because someone would hear and help.

Thieves in the area also protected them from thieves from other areas, he said.

The commission was set up by Western Cape premier Helen Zille to probe accusations by civil society formations that police inaction was leading to an increase in "mob justice" killings in the area.

The SJC alleged police inefficiency was leading to criminals running rampant in the sprawling township, and residents being forced to take the law into their own hands.

The commission's activities were delayed for some time when Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa tried to have the inquiry scrapped.

Mthethwa lost his legal bid to stop the commission in the Constitutional Court in October last year.

- SAPA

Read more on:    police  |  cape town
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Boys, 6, die in hit-and-run

2014-04-19 22:37

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
9 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

'Zuma's legacy will be judged by Nkandla'

The legacy of President Jacob Zuma is contingent on how he deals with the issue of upgrades to his Nkandla homestead, says Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be good at organising events but they do take their toll on your energy levels. You may need some time out today just to...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.