Crime committed by youths, teenage drinking, smoking, and drug use is a problem in Nyanga.
Added to this, the area itself has been crowned the “murder capital” of the country.
However, thanks to organisations such as Inyanga Yethu Activation, all is not lost.
Just after 10am on a sunny Sunday December 16, Reconciliation Day, White City Park was full of boys playing street soccer.
Inyanga Yethu is a youth development project that offers a space for young people to perform music, art and theatre among others. They also run youth-centred crime prevention projects from the Zolani Centre in Nyanga East to fight the scourge of gangsterism.
Surrounded by houses, the park is full of children, watching the going-ons on the small field. At the same time, the organisers have talks in between to educate young people about their area and their future.
They are taught life skills, which focus on improving their thoughts about themselves and their lives,
and the way they interact with other people.
Proud founder and the manager of Inyanga Yethu, Zukile Ntentema, is over the moon that there are young people starting to heed the call to stay away from drugs, alcohol and other social ills.
He speaks highly of his team who made the day possible and promised to continue to keep young people off the streets especially on big days. We all know Nyanga. It is an open secret that we are leading in crime. But we felt as young people we should be part of solving the problem.
“We found out that many of our people have alcohol in their blood samples when they die. We also find out that drinking happens when schools are closed and on big holidays like today and New Year’s Eve, December 31.
We had to stop young people from drinking and doing drugs by creating this harms reduction programme,” he said.
He stressed that the main aim is to stop young people from drinking and going to places where they end up drinking.
“We have seen that what is needed are life skills and keeping them busy. For instance here, we told them to form teams and should we suspect that some team members were drunk the night before, we do not accept them. By so doing they stay focused and disciplined.
I think we are slowly winning the fight against booze and drugs and that makes us happy,” he said.
Yongama Plaatjie, the DA’s proportional representative councillor, lauded the young people for coming together and doing something positive. He said he was happy that the work of Inyanga Yethu and other stakeholders are fruitful.