Ocean View community need the army’s support

* Luke Koeries of Kids are Kids added his voice to the call for the army to be deployed in Ocean View.

Following the army’s deployment to the Cape Flats last week, Ocean View residents have asked, “What about us?”

“My community is fighting for its life and the life of its children – the fight is with gangsters and their drugs,” says proportional representative councillor for Ocean View, Patricia Francke.

She said Ocean View as a well-known gang hot spot was also desperate for the army’s help.

Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz met with Ms Francke on Saturday July 20 to hear her concerns.

Another voice from the community calling for help is Kids are Kids founder, Luke Koeries, (“Giving back to home,” False Bay Echo, July 20, 2017).

“Our kids are seeing dead bodies and gunfights and gangsters every day of their lives; they are seeing things no child should see,” he said.

Mr Koeries, a medic and volunteer firefighter with Emergency Volunteer Services, said just last week he had held a man in his arms who had been stabbed in the heart.

He said Ocean View’s children were lured into gangs with the promise of escape from generational poverty.

“Our children are not bad; they just haven’t learned better coping mechanisms. They need to be safe, and have good role models.”

Mr Koeries said more recreational facilities and activities were needed for Ocean View’s children to steer them away from gangs, which were targeting ever young children.

“Drugs are so common. It’s like seeing people smoke a cigarette. And then you have people telling children it’s legal to smoke dagga now, and they don’t know any better because their whole family does it.”

A teacher from a school that predominately teaches children from Ocean View and Masiphumelele said many of their youngest pupils were latch-key kids who seldom saw their working parents. 

The children returned to empty homes and had to feed themselves and put themselves to bed at night.

“The worst things you can imagine, happen to these kids. They tell us. Many of them are in counselling because of where they live and what happens in their communities,” she said. “Their parents work long hours, but even so can’t afford after-care costs – there is often nothing they can do because they must work.”

Retired DA chief whip Mark Wiley, speaking in his private capacity, said the deployment of the army would bring immediate relief to communities rent by violence and loss of life associated with gangs, but the army was not a long-term solution. 

Nevertheless, he said he hoped its deployment would give SAPS top brass time to reconsider its policing priorities and bolster poorly resourced stations and detectives.

“It is important for people to understand that the SANDF is a completely different resource to SAPS. They do their own research, have their own intelligence and resources and it is in the very best interests of the community to co-operate with them and give them information so they can form their own picture,” he said.

Mr Fritz said it would be self-defeating to reveal operational activity, but he said he realised gangsters would be moving into other communities to avoid clashes with the army.

“We ask the communities to trust that we are handling the situation and that we are constantly taking in information,” he said, adding that not all deployments would be announced.

“The residents of Ocean View and other communities must know that their situations are known to us even if they haven’t made it to a list,” he said.