Invest in the lives of high-risk children

Johann Kikillus, Ocean View

I have attended three public feedback meetings over the past few weeks in response to the memorandum that was handed to SAPS in June, requesting more security measures to be put in place.

There is no doubt that both SAPS and the City of Cape Town have pulled out all the stops to ensure that Ocean View is a safer place.

The station commander, Lietenant Colonel Monwabisi Buzwayo, gave some very impressive feedback to the community about arrests and confiscation of firearms and drugs (“Police progress in Ocean View”, Echo, August 23).

I will state again that SAPS has done an excellent job considering their lack of staff and resources, and the visible policing and detective branches must be commended.

The City of Cape Town has promised cameras and even use of a drone to combat crime. The Department of Community Safety has been encouraging the increase of neighbourhood watch groups and more participation on the community police forum.

On the surface, the plan looks brilliant. It will cost millions of rand to implement all of the promises that were made. But I feel that one crucial element has been overlooked – the upliftment of our youth.

We have to ask ourselves why our young people have landed up in such a mess already? Why are hundreds of children dropping out of school before matric and sitting on the streets at 10am in the morning in their pyjamas? Why are children as young as 8 being suspended from school for dagga use? Why are young girls sitting in drug houses or at street parties and being preyed upon by older men? What has been done about the several thousand traumatised schoolchildren who are unable to concentrate on their work and worry about whether their families are safe?

I have raised these issues directly with the MECs of Community Safety, Education and Social Development many times over the past six years. What was not explained in detail at the premier’s meeting was which programmes are being run at the schools to deal adequately with trauma and behaviour issues.

What programmes are being run by the Department of Social Development for high-risk youth and children, and how many children have been through these programmes over the past five years?

What measures have been put in place to assist the many young people who are on drugs and how many have been through those programmes?

What is the success rate of assisting children living in abusive conditions?

How many churches have signed up with the CPF and Department of Community Safety to assist with programmes?

I was impressed to see how quickly government could find millions of rand from various budgets to put up cameras. I wonder what the state of our children would be
like if some same millions of rand were found five years ago and invested in the lives of all the high-risk children.

Cameras are great and work very well if criminals do their deeds in front of them.

But criminals are not stupid. They are misguided and probably could have benefited from mentoring and guidance when they were young.

Lastly I know many of these young men who have been murdered or who are doing the killing.

Over the years, they have come to me for help to get back into school or find a place of safety due to abusive parents. It pains me when I see them lying on the ground dead
or being arrested
for possession of a firearm, and I am
left wondering what more could we have done.