Tackling gangs

A campaign to combat crime by “changing mindsets” in the greater Grassy Park area was launched at a meeting at Fairview Primary School on Tuesday September 13.

GangsterismSHALLfall was started by the Grassy Park Community Police Forum (CPF) and involves community leaders and neighbourhood watches.

CPF spokesman Philip Bam said the campaign’s first phase would create awareness about the dangers of gangsterism.
“It is intended to do community education by speaking to small groups such as church women’s associations, school governing bodies, youth groups, etc. It is a process which we call yeasting rather than the hit-and-run approach of big marches. Presentations will be done at schools to highlight the impact of gangsterism on the lives of young people.”
Mr Bam said 40 000 pamphlets go out to schools “so that each school child at every school in the Grassy Park police precinct will have information to take home and start the conversation”.

The pamphlets encourage parents to know their children and warn about the dangers of joining a gang.

“The campaign will be driven by the understanding that gangsterism can be beaten around the kitchen table,” said Mr Bam.
A website will also be launched where youth in trouble with gangs or struggling with the question can find solutions.
CPF chairman Fuad Titus said: “We are targeting the children and talking to parents in separate meetings so that we can convince them to communicate with each other.”

They are appealing to principals, teachers, imams and preachers to take part. “We want the preachers and imams to talk to the community in churches and mosques about morals and principals,” said Mr Titus.
Instead of having marches and signature drives, they plan to have street or community meetings in different areas, and they want to involve the councillors.

“The former ward councillors Leslie Isaacs and Melanie Arendse, who assisted us while they were councillors, are still on board,” said Mr Titus.

Ms Arendse said: “I think this kind of approach is a great idea, because we are now not just looking at a gangster, but we are looking at someone’s child, who happens to be a gangster.”

Diaz Village Neighbourhood Watch spokesman David Benjamin thought the meeting was very informative. “If we target primary school children, we are tackling the cradle,” he said.
He said it was important to create the right environment for children. “We have no swimming pool in Grassy Park and we know of children who are good at waterpolo.”

It was important to find the resources needed to feed children’s talent. “We need to find alternatives to drugs by introducing our beautiful culture to our children.”

Mr Bam said other programmes in the pipeline would address parenting skills. Those who felt they could make a contribution were welcome to join. Call Mr Bamat 083 658 3885 for details.