Youth taking back their streets

2018-07-17 06:00

Following gang violence in the area, which has seen a number of people killed and injured the last few weeks, young residents are taking a stand by banding together to restore peace to their community.

Cleo de Villiers has been living in Retreat for 32 years and is outraged by the continued violence which claimed the life of her husband three weeks ago.

“Three innocent people were killed in this gang war and we as the community have to stand up.

“What made us angrier was the one-year-old child who was shot last week.

“We feel that as a community we need to put a stop to this gang violence,” says De Villiers­.

She adds that her family, friends and other residents decided they need to find a solution to the problem.

As a result, a youth activist group, known simply as “Coloured boys say no to gangsterism” has been formed.

One of the leaders of the group says that the violence has started to hit home hard and felt the need for something to be done about it, but also that it needed to be handled with some sensitivity.

“We don’t want to provide names and other information, but if it gets to a point, we will have to. But we can’t trust anyone. The same police that you tell will be the same person who turns around and tells that same gang. Then that gang comes to hunt you and kill you,” says the leader.

The formation of the activist group is welcome news to ward councillor Shanen Rossouw, who says that it is refreshing to have a group of young people trying to take ownership of their community.

“I am glad, because now I know that together we can move forward,” she says.

Rossouw will help the group formulate a memorandum as well as point them in the right direction when applying for a march, which they hope will take place in the next week or two.

“That is what they want; the tuck shops must be closed by 21:00, because the shootings and murders mostly happened at the tuck shops situated on corners.

“We all know about the mindset parents hiding from guns and trying to hide the children, but that is not the issue.

“It is more a preventative measure that must happen so that the shootings can stop,” Rossouw adds.

Both Rossouw and the youth group believe that if the police are visible, it will deter potential shooters, coupled with the proposal of a 21:00 shut down.

“I will lead them in this and assist them in the march.

“I am glad as a councillor that the youth have now woken up and saying that they need to also voice their views and say how they feel,” she says.

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