I have noted with interest how the extraordinary high murder rate of the Western Cape has continued to remain alarmingly high, even though the South African National Defence Force has been here for a month.
In a recent newspaper article, Cape Town was listed as the 11th most dangerous city in the world, mainly due to its gangsterism.
I do not believe that the army is the answer to our problems.
They, together with our police and law enforcement, are only scratching the surface of far deeper problems.
A young man does not wake up one morning and decide to pick up a gun or a knife. The circumstances that he is born into play a very big role in leading him to make that fateful decision.
What has happened across the Western Cape is the result of a systemic failure, both in government and society.
I spend my time between the far south, the Karoo and Kannaland. Since the army came to Cape Town, we have seen an increase in gangsters arriving in the small “dorpies” all the way to Beaufort West.
Those “dorpies” have absolutely no way of dealing with this.
Beaufort West is suddenly faced with murders both this past weekend and the one before.
If provincial government hopes to make a difference, then various departments need to take advantage of the army being here.
While the streets are guarded, it gives time for social workers, youth workers, early childhood development workers, trauma counsellors, health workers, truancy officers, etc to move freely around these “no-go” areas and begin to address the root causes of the social ills that are destroying our communities. I do not see this happening.
It is easy to blame the police, but their job is only enforcing the law. It is provincial government’s job to fix up schools with poor pass rates, to make sure that social workers have places to send high-risk youth to and to ensure that every child in the province finishes Grade 12.
I would like to start reading weekly press releases from the premier’s office, as well as departments of social development, health and community safety on how they are doing everything in their power to ensure that not one single child falls out of school and joins a gang or gets hooked on drugs. We are almost half way through this window of opportunity.
Please can government urgently join hands with NGOs and civil society and come up with a sustainable plan to turn the Western Cape into a place that both tourists and locals want to live in.