The “infamous” Cape Town weather did not stop an active group of learners from marching to the Kraaifontein South African Police Services (SAPS) to submit their demands for social change in commemoration of Youth Day on Tuesday, June 16, 2015.
The event was organised by two Activators; Wandisile Mbabalo (25) and Zikhona Mnyatheli (26) in collaboration with the SAPS and it was part of the interventions from their organisation: Uluju Youth Development which aims to drive change through positively redirecting the youth in Kraaifontein and instilling self and social cognisance in order for them to benefit their respective townships within the area.
The peaceful march was themed “Don’t kill the world”. It was aimed at mobilising young and old Bloekombos/Wallacedine residents and getting them to unite against the primary challenges faced by Kraaifontein holistically. Student representatives from six schools each submitted and presented their demands to government officials who were there from the Departments of Social Development, Education, the Community Police Forum (CPF) and the SAPS. These demands from the learners included requesting the SAPS to be more involved in school patrol and controlling gangsterism and substance abuse. Tatum Samuels of Bernadino Heights said “We understand that no school in this area is immune to issues such as alcohol and substance abuse, we have had our fair share of learners coming to school under the influence”.
The learners further demanded that there be frequent unannounced searches for illegal substances and weapons in schools as this makes them feel unsafe at times. Siyamthanda Saul of Wallacedine High stated that the students do not feel safe within school premises as their fellow schoolmates carry dangerous weapons and occasionally use them within the premises, “teachers are also ignorant of this fact and they do not take responsibility”, she said.
Another issue of concern that was raised by the community members was the fact that school girls are now the primary targets of drug dealing and substance abuse as they are not primary suspects of such. “These guys approach young girls and use them for drug dealing, and eventually abuse them sexually too”, the concerned Yamkela Nyanda of Hector Petersen High School said.
Government officials were then given a platform to respond to the youth’s demands and suggest action steps that will remedy the current predicament the students are in. The response was rather promising to community members and learners as the officials seemed aware of some of these social ills. Mr Sila of the Kraaifontein CPF commended the learners and community members for having a peaceful march that aims to address such harsh realities, “I have hope because I have seen that without destroying anything, you were able to come together and unify against such issues, this means we can invest in young people as leaders in the future”, he said. He further stated that submitting these demands directly to the officials is good because it triggers a sense of urgency amongst them, resulting in quick and efficient action being taken. He also promised to create a youth desk that will discuss and address all these issues- ensuring that each school has a representative.
Mr. Fritz Gezwind of the Department of Social development told the learners that they should see that day as the springboard for further action, and the beginning of many more similar gatherings. The community members cheered with hope.
The Department of Education was represented by Mr. Appolos and he encouraged young people to take action themselves by being part of impact structures such as Uluju Youth Development, neighborhood watch and School Governing Bodies.
After the gathering, learners and community members marched out of the hall with cheer and started chanting victory songs. The elders of the community were pleased with the Activators involved and their initiative. “I am motivated and inspired by these young people. I have never met Wandisile and Zikhona but knowing that they are responsible for this made me love them as my own and be proud of the Kraaifontein youth community”, said Nontsapho Matiwane (54) of the Wallacedene phase 4 area.
Gift Kgosierileng (also an Activator) was there to support fellow colleagues and he said that change in this country is not just a need but also a priority as we are sadly fighting the principle of darkness. He further stated that it’s always amazing to be part of youth who advocate change and act upon the need.
Wandisile and Zikhona are passionate Activators who met at church and shared common passion in youth development and education as well as being part of the ACTIVATE! network. They both believe that ACTIVATE! has helped them be able to narrow down social ills and take relevant action and they have met a number of people who share the same passion and that is inspiring.
Here’s a video of Wandisile Mbabalo briefing on the event (covered by the SABC).