Platform to help youth

2019-07-09 06:00
The group of men and women whose wish is to be visible in the area.  PHOTO: Siphesihle notwabaza

The group of men and women whose wish is to be visible in the area. PHOTO: Siphesihle notwabaza

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After noticing an increase in crime in their area, friends, Sakhile Mahlaba and Cleo Zini decided to roll up their sleeves and face the challenge head-on.

In April, the pair initiated the Mandalay Montclair Youth Development (MMYD), a structure that seeks to help youth in the two neighbouring areas in the fields of sport, arts and promote community safety.

On Thursday 30 June, the duo called a community meeting at Mandalay Primary School to officially introduce the structure and to seek support from the residents.

The pair revealed their plans about the area and what they have already achieved. They have been conducting routine patrols with a group of youth in the mornings. They also escort morning commuters to the trains and bus stations.

The structure is not there to replace police or take over work done by any law enforcement agencies.

“Our mandate is to be visible to the residents of Mandalay. We are sick and tired of the hooligans ruling our streets,” Mahlaba explained.

A great part of the meeting was about requesting community support.

Mahlaba shared their struggles as a group. Among others, he said they wanted bicycles and safety jackets. Since most of their work is done in the dark and at night she said they also wanted torches and two-way radios.

The duo also explained they work with youth from different backgrounds with different challenges and their aim is to change their fortunes. Some of the youngsters were involved in crime and drugs before they were recruited into the programme.

The duo says they are looking for financial assistance to make sure that members of the MMYD receive a stipend.

Zini said a few businessmen and residents have been helping with soup. “They have been supporting us, telling us that we must not stop. Some even help us when we patrol by driving us around on rainy days. We thank them,” expressed Zini.

They appealed to residents to contribute a minimum of R30 a month so that they can get some of the items they need. They also thanked the neighbourhood watch for lending them reflectors and torches.

Their plea was welcomed by the residents, some of whom shared their stories of how crime affected them.

One resident told the meeting how he and his two neighbours had their cars broken into three nights in a row. They commended the patrolling team and vowed to support it.

Resident Trevor Grovers expressed his support for the initiative. He revealed he had been a victim of a break-in, a few years ago.

Speaking on behalf of the patrollers, Sandiso Sageka and Enam Mbambani said they enjoy what they are doing.

They are proud to be residents of Mandalay and seeing criminals come to their area to cause havoc breaks their hearts, they said.

They invite anyone who wishes to join. Their wish is for MMYD to grow and cover the entire area.

They said being part of the group has changed their lives because they have something to look forward to as they are unemployed, even though sometimes the weather is bad.

“The group has helped me because I used to do drugs and rob people. But now I have changed. I thank Cleo who brought me into the group,” said Mbambani.

All they ask for is that the community make a contribution so that they can cover some of the things they need during winter.

Mahlaba encouraged residents to close their house and car windows and to install outside lights in their homes. That, he said makes their job easier.

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