Violence traumatising community

Johann Kikillus, director, Soteria Ministries

Ocean View has had a very bad start this year with shootings between rival gangs and drug dealers. There have already been several murders and a number of attempted murders.

What is of particular concern to the Ocean View Care Centre is the damage that is being done to the community from a trauma perspective.

For instance on Monday morning, January 23. I already had a number of children and women come to me looking for help. This past Friday, there were two murders close to the Care Centre. Both of them were within very close distance of the library and the clinic.

Although the shootings occurred after office hours, the concern is that this “turf” has become a danger zone. We have been situated in the area for the past five years and have had a very high number of shootings here.

In December at 11am one morning, there was shooting next to the library and park, and children had to run into the library.

The obvious concern with shooting next to these two public buildings is that an innocent bystander will get shot. Both the library and clinic are frequented by the elderly and small children.

Also of concern is the emotional effect that the shootings is having on our children. Last year, I spoke at both primary schools and quickly realised that all of the pupils that I spoke to were very traumatised. They were constantly worrying about whether their families were safe and were too scared to go to safe places like youth groups, the library and sports fields. Many of these struggled with their school work and I have seen a few this year who have failed because of the shootings.

We must never underestimate the trauma that a community goes through when there is constant shooting and murder. It leaves a lasting impression on children who sadly are often the first to attend a murder scene and then come and tell me in graphic detail what they saw.

For the past six years, I and many others have tried to get government to take note of the mayhem that is busy destroying Ocean View.

Every now and again a politician will pop by and say a few carefully rehearsed words.

But today I can say that our youth are in crisis. We need more than speeches – we need action. The clinic, library, schools, sports fields and churches should not be danger zones, they need to be protected.

Our police are still understaffed and under resourced so the City of Cape Town will have to step up and send their Metro and law enforcement officers to maintain law and order.

We need extra trauma counsellors to assist with the high number of traumatised children and adults. The Care Centre will gladly make space available for them to operate from.

And I want to invite the gangsters and hitmen to come and pay the Care Centre a visit. After having worked for 15 years with gangsters, I have still never seen one with a happy ending. It either ends in death, paralysis or jail.

I wish to say to them that it is time to rethink their lives for the sake of them, their children (who often become orphaned) and the rest of the community.

But 2017 has to be a year where government, NGOs churches and civil society takes a stand and starts the healing process of this beautiful town called Ocean View.