Saving water, not lives – Lavender Hillâ€™s story
On Friday, the Cape Argus reported that the army, the policeâ€™s tactical response unit, metro police and traffic officers were sent into Lavender Hill, a community on the Cape Flats thatâ€™s been terrorised by gang violence non-stop for the past two years. When I say non-stop, I mean there has literally not been a stop to the gang war in the area in at least 24 months.Â Since the beginning of September, at least seven people have been killed because of this violence.
Lavender Hill has officially been labelled the most dangerous place on the Cape Flats â€“ with gangs like the Junky Funky Kids, Mongrels, Americans and Corner Boys going at each other like theyâ€™ve been unleashed from the pit of hell itself.
A family friend who lives in Lavender Hill on the Cape Flats took a taxi home from Steenberg Station on a Saturday afternoon a few months ago. In the same taxi hid an alleged well known gangster who was being hunted by a rival gang. Not being able to get to him directly, gangsters just aimed rifles at the moving vehicle and fired. The man who they were targeting got away without a scratch, but there was one fatality and our friend got shot in the stomach. Fortunately for her, she survived.
Another friend who lives in the area says gangsters knock on doors looking for theirÂ rivals and shoot the first person who opens the doorâ€¦gangster or not.Â â€śWhen things go woes we just lock our doors and stay inside, even if itâ€™s for days,â€ť says one of the ladies in my church who also lives in Lavender Hill.
A few Saturdayâ€™s ago we buried the son of another church member who was unlucky enough to have witnessed the murder of one gang member by rivals. He was subsequently taken out.
I can write about similar stories all day because this is a reality for people in that community on a daily basis. There have been on-going calls for Lavender Hill and other gang war zones on the Cape Flats to be declared a State of Emergency, this has fallen on deaf ears. While I understand that this is a very serious action, to be used as a last resort only, itâ€™s clear that nothing else will work. It will be messy business sure, but how much longer must our people suffer withoutÂ definitiveÂ action being taken against theÂ perpetrators?Â Sending in small army units and police for brief periods during the daytime is not enough to keep people safe, it hasnâ€™t worked so far has it? In the very least a detailed plan of action to stop gang violence must be made public and monitored.
In the face of all of this death, despair and gang violence, the City of Cape Town has decided to use Lavender Hill as the venue for the public launch of its City-wide Water Saving Campaign. Personally, I can think of no greater slap in the face to the residents of this community.
The message the City is giving is, â€śWe know things are rough but look, if we can hold a launch here, it canâ€™t be that bad can it?â€ť
Water Saving is actually a great initiative, but seriously, asking people living in the most gang ravished part of the country to focus on saving water is thoughtless and insensitive. Itâ€™s also a blatant avoidance of the real issue, something politicians have gold star status in doing! To say Iâ€™m disappointed in the Democratic Alliance-led government in Cape Town is putting it mildly. The people of Lavender Hill deserve better.
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