Warming kids’ hearts

2019-12-17 06:00
Kids from Bonnytoun tuck into the chicken stew and rice donated by Wynberg police officers.PHOTO: Nettalie Viljoen

Kids from Bonnytoun tuck into the chicken stew and rice donated by Wynberg police officers.PHOTO: Nettalie Viljoen

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When a police vehicle pulls up in your driveway, most South Africans feel a twinge of concern, but not the residents of Bonnytoun.

When staff from Wynberg police and Wynberg community policing forum (CPF) visited the informal settlement on Tuesday 10 December, residents greeted them with a smile.

And it wasn’t just because they were bringing gifts and a warm meal for the women and children.

Wynberg police and the CPF have spent quite a few years fostering a relationship with the small informal settlement located between Wetton Road and Rosmead Avenue.

Wynberg police station spokesperson Capt Silvino Davids says he knows most of the approximately 150 individuals who call this patch of council ground their home.

“If they have a problem, they come straight to me,” says Davids.

He says some of the residents have lived there for 30 years and although they have their issues, like alcohol abuse and domestic violence, the community does not cause major problems.

“They are part of the Wynberg community,” he says.

Life is hard for the people of Bonnytoun. Some have full-time work, but most rely on odd jobs when they can find them.

Col Rufie Nel, station commander of Wynberg police station, says his officers can see that the residents have it rough. “That’s why our officers opened their wallets to give them a bite to eat today,” says Nel.

On Tuesday, Davids, Nel, Brig Nokuthula Mzila (station commissioner), Sgt Elenor Petersen, WO Sadwick Philander, WO Petrus von Mollendorff, Sgt Evan Swanepoel and Capt Erica Polansky were on hand to dish out rice and chicken stew prepared by the mess hall at Wynberg police station.

Nel shared a few words with the community.

Pointing to a toddler, he said “die kleintjie” (this small one) couldn’t afford to grow up in a community where they saw things like their parents using drugs.

“Keep the area drug free, keep it crime-free. And most importantly, help get each child here through matric,” he said.

Shamila Nicholas, chair of the CPF, also had a message for the residents.

She and two CPF exco members – Saligh Kippie and Candice Jacobs – had brought along 60 toiletry and 50 stationery gift bags to distribute among the community’s women and children, respectively.

“With this little gift, we want to show you that we care about you, that we do think about you,” she said.

Nicholas said the initiative was in support of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. She asked the mothers who had gathered to be role models for their children.

“We hold 16 Days to create awareness around abuse against women and children, but we know it happens every day. If it happens to you, don’t stay quiet. Don’t let your children see you stay quiet. Ask the police or CPF to help you,” said Nicholas.

Mona Allie, a community leader who is part of the Bonnytoun committee, added that it wasn’t enough to only rely on the help of others.

“A few years ago, women abuse was a very serious problem here. There are people who want to help but if you don’t decide to do something about it, it won’t stop. Don’t allow people to do that to you. Make that change and go to your local police station.”

Allie said the community appreciated that the police and CPF came out, especially at this time of year.

“Dit maak die kinders se harte bly (it warms the kids’ hearts),” she said.

Her biggest Christmas wishes are for a play park and a youth centre for the children.

“There is nothing here for them. When you have a drug problem on your doorstep, you need a place where children can go to be safe,” she said.

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