Following two community dialogues held recently in Hanover Park as part of its Community Conflict Mediation Project, Africa Unite youth Peer Educators held another dialogue on the 5th of November at 6 Spin Restaurant in Cape Town with a group of women from this community. These women were coming from nine (9) areas of Hanover Park.
Hanover Park is one of the communities which is highly affected by crime and gang violence in the Cape Flats- Cape Town. This dialogue was held on the request of the women in order to brainstorm on how to deal with these challenges. Before the meeting started, Africa Unite informed the women that the Hanover Park Councillor Mr Antonio Van De Rheede was unable to attend the dialogue due to other commitments, however the outcome will be shared to him. During this dialogue the women stressed their daily challenges, below are some of the challenges:
• There are serious divisions within the community to an extent that a community member from one area is not allowed to interact or go in another area within Hanover Park. Due to the alarming suspicions based on the influence of gang activities, often new people are regarded as a spy for the rival gangs. Most courts (areas) are being controlled by gangs; hence this is also applied to the rest of communities who are not even part of the gangs.
• The gangs are controlling the area through providing various social services to the community such as paying rents for some families.
• The gangs can hold hostage young boys and girls to work for them in exchange with drugs. They often sexually abuse young girls resulting in high teenage pregnancy from the age of 13. They also control and influence learners at school level.
• There is a lack of father figures in the community as most of the men are either on drugs or are gangsters- a small group of responsible fathers are afraid to speak out as often they are being targeted and shot by gangs.
• The gangs have only little respect only for women or mothers as they do not see them as a threat in the community.
• There are less strong youth movements or youth activities in the area.
For many years this community has been living in fear and less has been done by the government even the police to resolve these alarming challenges in Hanover Park. Previously there was a proposal to bring the army in the community, however this never materialized. The women felt that they cannot continue living in hostage in their own community and something needs to be done as women. They have identified children as a common bond that can bring them together, because even these gangs and drug dealers have children also.
The group agreed to start a women’s support group- women’s movement with the slogan, ‘’Hanover Park- Your Child is My Child.’’ They intend to extend this movement to all areas of Hanover Park by recruiting more women to join the group. They agreed that their next meeting will be held in Hanover Park on the 20th of November 2014.
However the women also felt that they need T-shirts with their slogan for them to start to being identified in their community.
For more pictures click here.