How Cape Flats youngsters see violence as the only way to heal

2017-03-15 18:14
Different organisations and individuals attend a SAHRC seminar in Uitsig on 'Violence on the Cape Flats'. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

Different organisations and individuals attend a SAHRC seminar in Uitsig on 'Violence on the Cape Flats'. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town - A Grade 1 pupil is waiting to be old enough to date the gangster that killed her "mommy" so she can kill him with poison.

A 17-year-old in juvenile prison dreams not of rushing to his mother when he gets out, but of killing someone first to make things right.

These true accounts of some youngsters on the Cape Flats reflect how violence was often seen as the only way to resolve problems, crime and justice system officials said on Wednesday.

They were speaking during a South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) seminar in Uitsig on Violence on the Cape Flats.

"Victims become perpetrators and perpetrators become victims," said Valdi Van Reenen-Le Roux, of The Trauma Centre.

Revenge plan

People on the Cape Flats were not dealing with post-trauma, "a Western concept", but a cycle of trauma that continued over generations.

"Today I am raped, tomorrow I am robbed, and the next day I am raped again. Mothers are depressed because their children have died. They can't go to work."

She revealed how a 5-year-old girl told her about a revenge plan, during a debriefing of a group of Grade 1 and Grade 2 pupils.

"She said I am just waiting to be old enough for a gangster. Then I am going to be his girlfriend. Then I am going to get rat poison and slowly poison him because he killed my mommy. I have no-one. I am going to kill him."

In another case, she spoke of a well-known Manenberg gangster who revealed during counselling how he was born into a family of gangsters, going back a few generations.

"He was 5 years old when he was beaten by gangsters. He was 13 years old when he witnessed the first murder of a loved one and realised he cannot depend on anybody to bring him justice," she said.

He decided to join a gang because he wanted revenge, even though he did not kill the person who killed his loved one.

'Discipline is violence'

Western Cape regional correctional services commissioner, Delekile Klaas, said most of their prisoners were between 18 and 35 years old. They were supposed to be in school, playing sport, going to university and working.

Instead they joined gangs, went to prison and "graduated" to prison gangs.

"One common trend is that the solution to any dispute is violence. The only form of discipline is violence."

He spoke of the youngster at Pollsmoor juvenile section. When asked about his release, he said he would have to kill someone before he could leave a gang and return home.

"It means that if he goes and kills someone, he is coming back to serve life."

Jacqueline Hoorn, of the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders, said it was challenging to deal with these cases.

"You often find out that when you step in, it is not enough because hurt and pain has gone so deep. That repair work will take much longer."

The speakers said solutions required communities to take responsibility for their children, and for government to provide the support needed for healthy, economically active families.

Read more on:    sahrc  |  cape town  |  crime

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