Learn to work together

Johann Kikillus, director, Soteria Ministries, Ocean View

I noted the responses to my previous letter, (“Make area more secure,” Echo, October 17) by JP Smith and Kathy Cronje.

Unfortunately, they did not answer my questions.

Mr Smith mentions that the answer to the continuous shooting is more police on the ground. He also mentioned that the cameras are working.

In that case, he should be able to provide footage to SAPS from this mornings shooting (Tuesday October 22) near the library, plus all the shooting that took place over the weekend, including the robbery at the shop outside the high school gate last week.

We should have seen many arrests by now. Ms Cronje wrote about a sector safety plan. Can this plan be made public so that all of us know exactly what this plan entails.

What we have seen over the past eight years is a deterioration of the area around Ocean View clinic and library. This morning, at least 50 children and elderly people had to run across the field in front of the Care Centre when the shooting started.

Eventually three police officers with weapons drawn arrived and ran around the area. If they had started shooting, then there would have been innocent people shot.

I wish to invite Premier Alan Winde and Mayor Dan Plato to a deeper discussion into how to address these issues. We are fooling ourselves if we believe that more police and cameras will make gangsterism disappear.

We have these problems because of a breakdown of society. Ocean View was severely neglected under the previous mayor and premier.

Hopefully now this can change. Premier Winde and Mayor Plato are welcome to meet at Ocean View Care Centre. I would request that the MECs of Education, Social Development, Community Safety, Health and Housing join in the discussion because all of those departments need more support.

Sadly I see these same problems wherever I go around the Western Cape.

I just returned from visiting several towns in the Central Karoo and matters have gotten from bad to worse in the month since my last visit. We will only fix our youth when both government and civil society have an open discussion and learn to work together.

* Zahid Badroodien, mayoral committee member for community services and health, responds: The City stands by the view that improved policing is a must in areas like Ocean View.

The shortage of police officers within SAPS is well-documented, and so too the efficacy of visible policing. So, yes, enforcement continues to be a crucial element in making our streets safer.

While the author is correct in his assertion that partnerships are the best way to facilitate positive change in communities, it is an unfair accusation that Ocean View has been neglected.

The City has a long track record of social interventions in the area. This includes:

* Rolling out the Strengthening Families programme which literally works to address problems in the home that have the potential to spill over into the broader community. The programme has been found to significantly reduce problem behaviours, delinquency and substance abuse in children and to improve social competencies and school performance. It also improves parenting skills.

* The Women for Change programme (formerly known as the Women in Rental Stock initiative) which aims to uplift rental stock areas and address socio-economic challenges by empowering female tenants.

* Ongoing substance abuse education and awareness programmes at schools in the area.

* Work readiness and capacity building workshops for young people

* Early Childhood Development skills training and ECD forum support programme.

In addition, the Ocean View Recreation Hub offers a range of activities on a daily basis for young and old, particularly after school activities and holiday programmes to occupy children

There is always a need to do more, but the City is stretched to provide similar services in communities around the metropole – many of whom grapple with the same issues prevalent in Ocean View. Already many of the programmes that have been introduced exceed the mandate of local government, but we recognise the need for action, and collective action at that.

So our call to this community, and others, is to work with us to make Ocean View, but also other communities in Cape Town, safer spaces.

As a starting point, we encourage residents to get involved by attending their local sub-council meetings and using their voices to motivate for additional services in their areas. You can’t be part of the solution if you are not part of the process.

* Western Cape Premier Alan Winde responds:

I would like to thank Mr Kikilus for his concern for his community, expressed in his letter, but also point out that policing is an SAPS mandate, which they are failing to deliver on.

The Western Cape government agrees that crime cannot be solved by merely adding more boots on the ground. This is why we recently launched a provincial safety plan which, in addition to 3 000 more law enforcement officers on the ground, will also focus on violence prevention programmes.

Every member of my cabinet has a safety priority to deliver on, which in the long-term, will contribute towards safer communities and reduced violence.

We have had some meetings with communities around the plan, and I will ask my team to add Ocean View to the list for community engagement initiatives.

* Greg Wagner, spokesman for mayor Dan Plato, responds:

The mayor’s office has previously assisted Mr Kikilus with a number of his requests, and the City continues to engage and assist our residents wherever possible.

While policing matters remain the primary mandate of SAPS, Mr Kikilus is welcome to contact the mayor’s office about any of his concerns that we may be able to assist with.