What may seem as a normal day as children play in the streets of the Cape Flats may not be so normal as danger lurks in their shadows and in almost every corner of the street, putting at risk the lives of the children in the province as gangs run riot.
Emaan Solomons is the latest victim to gang warfare in the province. The seven-year-old was shot dead at her home in Ocean View, on Tuesday, in what is alleged to be a drug turf war between gangs.
Director of Non-Governmental Organisation Molo Shongololo, Patrick Solomons, says children are directly affected by the gang violence in the province.
Solomons says children live in fear.
“They live in a constant state of fear that they could be shot and killed; that they could be robbed, hurt and assaulted, constant state of fear that their families members could be assaulted, robbed and hurt and even killed.”
In the audio below Solomons says children’s lives are at stake:
Children living in gang-infested areas are also targeted to join the gangs.
“Children as young as eight and 10 years of age already affiliate themselves to certain gangs in the communities. So, we do have a serious problem, where gangs have become an alternative for children for their survival, recreation and for their social engagements.”
Different areas affected by the problem have taken a stand against it, marching to the streets and calling on government to address.
In the video below, a mother whose child was killed in the gang related incident explains the incident:
To help curb the problem, the South African Defence Force (SANDF) was deployed to the Cape Flats in 2019.
In the video below SANDF members accompany the police in conducting raids in Manenberg:
Solomons says it is difficult to deal with gangs because gang members are part of the community.
“These gangsters are members of the community. It is family members, brothers and sisters; it is aunts and uncles that belong to these gangs. They are quite embedded within the community and within the community life.”
He urges South Africans to put children first and ensure that they are protected.
The graphic below shows children who have fallen victim to gang-related crime in the Western Cape: