Meeting to discuss ‘failing’ Far South systems

Community worker Johann Kikillus’s talks, given over the past six months in various communities in the Far South, have shown one thing: we are all struggling and we all think we are the only community feeling this way.

“No – they are not the only communities, and we can do something to fix it,” says Mr Kikillus.

He is the director of Soteria Ministries, based in Ocean View, and co-founder of advocacy NGO Social Transformation Forum with Stephen Petterson and Marti Weddepohl.

He has been working in the Far South for six years, but has been doing community work for more than 10 years, having previously worked in Lavender Hill and Westlake.

His portfolio on the ward 69 committee for ward 69 is safety and security. Ward committees are structures set up by the City of Cape Town as a link between the community and City council structures.

Mr Kikillus has been invited to talk in Muizenberg, Fish Hoek, Simon’s Town, Ocean View, Glencairn, Scarborough and Kommetjie.

His focus on social issues and crime has looked at what each community battles with, the level of service each community feels it is getting, why the system seems to be failing so badly, how we can tackle these problems and how the different communities can help each other.

And now Mr Kikillus wants to take what he has learnt from the different communities and his years of work to figure out the way forward at a public meeting at the Fish Hoek civic centre on Thursday May 12, at 7.15pm.

“It’s like a social issues version of the Far South Peninsula Forum’s Gatvol (fed up) movement, he says (“Gatvol gathers steam,” Echo April 28).

“I found deep anger and frustration,” he said. “All the communities felt their concerns being taken to the mayor or the province were not being addressed by them.

“When it comes to safety and security and social services, the general feeling across the entire Far South was that the government is not taking the area seriously.

“The City and the provincial government are very far removed from life on the ground.

“In all communities, people felt that social development and law enforcement were not doing enough,” he said. “I look into the eyes of desperate people every day.”

Watching the City’s presentation of the budget to the public the week before last in Fish Hoek, Mr Kikillus said that “it became very very clear that almost nothing is coming to the Far South.

“The only money allocated to our area was for the new fire station in Masiphumelele and R10.4m for a housing development there” with most of the budget having been allocated to the Voortrekker Road and Blue Downs corridors.

His visits to the communities had shown him that people felt that things had become worse over the past year, whether their issues related to destitute people, aggressive bin-pickers, the increase in petty and violent crime, lack of safety in school or violent protests. Communities saw problems in one area spilling into others, such as the taxi violence in Vrygrond, the violent protests in Masiphumelele or the shootings “almost every second day” in Ocean View.

Captain Angie Latchman, SAPS Wynberg cluster spokeswoman, told the Echo that Ocean View had not been declared a gang area.

However, there had been an “influx of sporadic gang-related shootings” there.

Mr Kikillus said he had seen mounting fear, particularly in violence-plagued areas.

Speaking to Grade 7s in Ocean View schools he had found “every single child is traumatised by what is going on”. He said he had seen the same thing among the children and the elderly of Masiphumelele.

Mr Kikillus has raised these issues regularly with various levels of government, including the premier’s office.

“Over the past five years, I have dealt with every minister in every department at least five times. I don’t think I will be on their Christmas lists, but I really don’t care,” he said. So he feels he is well versed in how systems work – or don’t.

And he reckons this will feed into the “something positive” he came across during his talks – a large number of people wanting to get involved but not knowing how.

“The meeting (next week) will also discuss how civil society can become more active across the Far South and not just their front stoep,” he said.

“The problems have got worse over the Far South. The systems in place are clearly failing the people. “Safety, social development and education go hand in hand and are not working.

“The government needs to do more. But civil society also needs to come to the table.

“Not only do we need to hold the government to account, but we also have to play a role,” he said. Mr Kikillus is inviting all those who want to turn their frustrations into something positive, both groups and individuals, to attend the Social Transformation Forum meeting at the civic centre.

Residents from all communities are encouraged to attend.

For information, you can contact Mr Kikillus at 084 280 2213 or email johann@socialtrans formationforum.org.za.