On the 5th of June 2015 Africa Unite held a dialogue at the Delft Public Library. This is part of Africa Unite’s community conflict mediation project which aims at strengthening grassroots capacities within different communities in conflict in order to find amicable and durable solutions to their challenges.
Delft community is the first township in Cape Town since 1994 to be integrated (coloreds and blacks) by the City of Cape Town in providing low cost housing. This was part of the City of Cape Town’s strategy to alleviate overcrowding of people in other townships.
This dialogue came as a follow up to the community assessment and relationship building done by Africa Unite youth peer educators with various local stakeholders in Delft (community leaders, schools, church leaders, community members, Councillor, Police and local NGO’s.) These stakeholders were invited to attend the community dialogue for the community to raise their issues of concern and to explore on the ways of dealing with these challenges.
The local councilor Mr S. Toko welcomed everyone to the dialogue before the floor was opened for discussion. Brigadier Brain Daniels was given the opportunity to speak in length on the police procedures and thanked Africa Unite for organising this platform. However, he told the community to raise their issues in such forums because his police station would like to form a partnership with the community to tackle any challenges facing the community.
After Brigadier Brain Daniels’ presentation, the community had a long fruitful discussion about policing in Delft and other social challenges facing the community.
Below are some of the challenges that were identified by the community:
• The neighborhood watch and police needs to keep confidentiality as often they give the names of the witnesses to the criminals. Thus, people live in fear and are not willing to become witnesses or collaborate with the police.
• There are many stakeholders in the area who work for a common cause but they are still not working together.
• The population of Delft has increased in the past 10 years, however there is only 1 day hospital and few schools in the area which often results in overcrowding of the hospital and the school.
• There are few sports facilities in the area for the young people.
• There is a high rate of school dropouts and substance abuseamongst the learners.
• Although this community was integrated to promote social cohesion between the colored and the black people, there are no meaningful interactions at all between counterparts. There are so many racial tensions; this is a time bomb waiting to explode.
• There are a number of xenophobic attitudes in the community.
• The police seem to be working with the criminals and this creates mistrust amongst the community.
• The lack of secret desk at the police station is putting people’s lives at risk.
• There is a lack of men who stand out as role models, often women are in front of all developmental activities undertaken in the area.
All the above challenges are very important and interlinked for delft community; however these challenges need to be discussed deeply one at a time in order to find a common solution. Brigadier Brain Daniels reassured the community that his station will continue to work towards building trust with the community although they will be always some bad apples within the police.
One of the ex-convict shared his experience and offered himself to help the young people by sharing his experiences in and out of prison. He also shared his challenge of being discriminated when trying to help the youth.
Some recommendations were made by the community members present:
• Parenting skills meetings need to be held with parents in order to improve the relations between the parents and children.
• A public meeting needs to be held between the police and the community at large in order to clarify various issues and allegations towards the police. This meeting will be convened by the councilor, police, AU and other stakeholders.
• There is a need to identify and check school learners that are on drugs to avoid more young people from being trapped in by those who are already on drugs.
• Men should stand up and volunteer to help in some of the challenges in schools and in the community.
• More interaction activities need to be identified and facilitated in a meaningful way in order to promote social cohesion between the coloreds and blacks in the area.
• A volunteer task team of 9 people was formed to work closely with Africa Unite in order to follow up on the above recommendations.
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