Residents observe Child Protection Week

Ocean View residents mourn relatives lost to gang violence.

Today at a hall in Ocean View, the police will measure, weigh, fingerprint and photograph children; they will keep the information on file and hopefully never use it.

The initiative is part of National Child Protection Week, and Ocean View police spokesman Sergeant Wayne Fortuin said the data might save valuable minutes one day should that child go missing.

The day will start at 11am and includes talks and fun activities for the children – it’s about teaching them that the police don’t need to be feared and can be turned to for help.

“We also want to build good relationships with the community; we all want the same thing, we want our kids to grow up safe from the harms of the world,” said Sergeant Fortuin.

That’s a tough ask, though, in a community rent by gangs fighting over turf and drugs.

Resident Alvin Castro, described the situation in Ocean View as never-ending and said the onslaught is becoming so much more brutal and inhumane.

Mr Castro, the creative executive director of Art Vibration Incorporated, said the community was at war with drugs and gangsters.

“Our children are dying at a rapid pace in our own communities. This plight affects all our communities in the Deep South. We would be fools to think that at some point this is not going to spill over into all the communities.

“Human trafficking is more lucrative than the drug and arms trade combined. I hope and trust that together we can do something to turn this situation around and stop it from gaining momentum.”

Head of the Ocean View Community Police Forum (CPF) Kathy Cronje said a vigil had been held recently for all the people killed by gang violence in the neighbourhood.

“The vigil had the full support of the CPF as the community has had enough. The community asked for the people of Ocean View to unite and bring an end to this violence.”

“Some of the people managed to say something. Baby Zahnia’s mother could not finish what she had to say… it was heartbreaking,” Ms Cronje said, referring to Cindy Woodward, the mother of 6-month-old Zahnia Woodward, who was shot through the head in Carnation Road on December 30, last year as she sat on her father, Bradley’s lap.

Johann Kikillus, of Soteria Ministries, has meanwhile put out a call to the community to honour their dead.

Families gathered at the Ocean View civic hall on May 19 for the community’s first grief service.

“As someone who has buried a child, I have an understanding of the sheer pain involved. I also know that I am only standing today because I was surrounded by supportive, and loving people,” Mr Kikillus said.

“Over the past six years, I have sat in the homes of many grieving parents and family members. Most of these buried their children because of a gruesome murder which just made the wound that bit deeper,” he said.

“I have also observed that many of these grieving people do not have the support or the space to grieve properly. I have witnessed many spiral into dark depression and hopelessness.

“I am by no means a professional at this. However I believe that we can offer a safe environment at this meeting to start the process,” he said.

Kleinberg Primary School is running daily activities to teach children about their rights until the end of Child Protection Week on Sunday June 4, and Ocean View station commander Lieutenant Colonel Errol Merkeur and Sergeant Fortuin spoke at the school’s assembly on Monday May 29.