Monday, 25 October 2010 05:39

Cape gang violence escalating Featured

Written by SAPA
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(With our collective heads in the sand...will it ever end? - Ed)

Gang violence is escalating in Hanover Park near Philippi in Cape Town, the Western Cape government said on Sunday. The MEC of community safety Albert Fritz would visit the Philippi police station and the Hanover Park community on Sunday afternoon.

“The minister wants to hear from the public and see for himself what the situation is,” his spokeswoman Melany Kuhn said.

“People have been ringing him and texting him from the community all weekend saying 'help! We need intervention the gang violence is out of control'.”

Decreasing gang violence was a priority for the MEC, Kuhn said. He would be looking at the root cause of the problem and analysing the choices available to young people on the Cape Flats.

“We need to show them (children) that there are other alternatives to joining a gang and we will give them that alternative,” she said. Gang leaders gave children the wrong impression that joining a gang would provide them with a better lifestyle, she said.

“It's an alluring quick way (to make money), full of bling.”

The youth in the area needed better role models. Kuhn said Fritz had grown up in Hanover Park and the problem of gang violence “strikes a raw nerve for him”. The MEC wanted to show the youth in the community that he had beaten the odds and they could as well. The provincial department had recently met Dr Gary Slutkin from the CeaseFire Initiative in the US. Slutkin had used the initiative to reduce violent crime in some of Chicago's roughest neighbourhoods by changing the behaviour of offenders, the Sunday Times newspaper reported.

Former gangsters were recruited and taught the skills to coach others caught up in the cycle of violence. Stakeholders including the police, community policing forums and community leaders from gang-ridden areas were invited to workshops with the goal of bringing a pilot project based on Slutkin's methods to Cape Town.

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