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We need action, not talk

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The murders this weekend at a shebeen in Philippi simply cannot be ignored because the frequency speaks of a larger problem in society

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THE killing this weekend of 11 people in the township of Philippi on the Cape Flats has become an all too familiar occurrence in Cape Town.

Anecdotally, we know that murder is rife in Cape Town’s townships, and Nyanga has for years had the unenviable distinction of being South Africa’s “murder capital”.

The latest SA Cities Network report released in April showed that the Cape Town metropole had a per capita murder rate of 69 for every 100000 people.

Consider this: in 1994 the murder for South Africa as a whole was 66.9 per 100000 people – and that was during a transition to democracy which was marked by violence and political killings.

By 2012, this rate had more than halved for South Africa as a whole as the country became more peaceful.

However, Cape Town’s townships have seemingly defied South Africa’s overall drop in murders and every Monday newspapers either report on the deaths from the previous weekend or simply ignore them.

The murders this weekend at a shebeen in Philippi simply cannot be ignored because the frequency speaks of a larger problem in society that will require more than just blame across the political aisle to bring about peace.

ANC and DA politicians, including those who have been embedded in the police service, have used crime as a political football hoping to score political points but have so far failed to recognise and devise effective strategies to combat violence on the Cape Flats.

National, provincial and local government for a start can look at their housing strategies which have often replicated, and some say perpetuated, apartheid spatial planning, where for most youngsters the only form of recreation is a visit to an illegal shebeen whose patrons are often the victims of crime.

Let’s be honest, if 11 people had been shot and killed on a weekend in one of Cape Town’s leafy suburbs, we would have had more than public relations spin and promises of action from politicians.

Instead of factional battles among the
upper-echelons of the police in the Western Cape, and the tit-for-tat political point scoring from politicians, everyone should come up with a strategy which will stop the blood-letting on the Cape Flats, where too many young people are being murdered for reasons that remain inexplicable.