“We, the Grassy Park Youth Desk crime prevention unit (CPU), say no to Guy Fawkes.”
In Cape Town, Guy Fawkes Day, celebrated annually on 5 November, has infamously become known as a day that criminal elements and unruly youth use as an excuse to wreak havoc on local residents.
“Guy Fawkes instills fear and anxiety in many youth and children. It has been an issue for years as 5 November is a dreaded day to go to school.
“We have students refusing to attend and remain absent or even bunk school because of safety concerns. Youth have the fear of being smeared with paint, thrown with eggs or any other substance that causes comic relief for those participating,” explains Saadiqah Ganief, deputy chair of the youth desk.
More frightening still are the acts of violence that occur. Last year, People’s Post reported on incidents that took place on the day, one of which involved an elderly man who collapsed in the road in Manenberg after being pelted with paint, tennis balls and other objects (“The ugly side of Guy Fawkes Day”, 10 November 2020).
Closer to home, the Steenberg CPF reports that unsupervised children are already beginning to cause havoc in the street, pelting cars and homes with stones.
“As the CPF, we are concerned about the increased incidents of stone throwing and other criminal misconduct by groups of children aged seven to 12 years. Some of these offences result in injury to others as well as damage to private and state property,” the CPF wrote in a message circulated to residents.
Reaching out to the community, the councillor for Ward 67, Gerry Gordon, annually speaks out against the activities that take place on Guy Fawkes Day.
Most recently, she commented: “Sadly, these are the scenes we are going to start seeing again (referring to the image shown) unless (the police) has a plan to curb these youngsters from hurting not only other kids with their stockings filled with sand, paint, blades, stones and nails, but also beating the elderly with their stockings.”
The CPF advises parents that there are dire consequences to letting their children run rampant and unsupervised through the streets. Their newsletter reads: “Parents of children found to be unsupervised and committing these offences are considered to be criminally negligent.”
Such negligence can result in the child being removed from the home and placed in the care of social services, and grant support, such as the South African Social Service Agency (Sassa) and child care grants, being discontinued.
The CPF concludes that “parents will be held criminally liable for all damage or injury” sustained to people or property at the hands of their children.