MEC for Community Safety, Dan Plato, pleaded with unemployed youth in Samora Machel to rediscover their dreams.
He was talking to the youth during his visit to the area, at Sophumelela Secondary School, on Thursday May 19. He stressed that young people were key to community safety and were very much on the department’s agenda.
He said he also made the visit to the area because gruesome and violent crime, together with drugs and substance abuse, seemed to have become a norm in the area.
“This is part of a public engagement programme that we have. But I took the opportunity to engage with pupils, unemployed youths and also members of the public because we cannot close the door on them. But I want young people to know there are educational, employment and developmental opportunities for them. All they need to know is how they are going to benefit. But we all know that education is key to empowerment,” he said.
He conducted a walkabout aimed at educating communities about the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) and he engaged with the communities about their safety concerns. The walk began in the early morning from the shopping centre through to the school hall.
Mr Plato, together with officials from his department and members of the upliftment organisation, Ikamva Peacemakers, engaged with members of the public, youth and other motorists along the way.
He said incidents of gang violence in the area had sparked fear among community members and at schools.
However he said he was happy to have members of Ikamva Peacemakers and members of the Bambanani Neighbourhood watch fighting crime.
“Samora is very important to us. There are gangs that fight mostly on weekends. There are drugs, tik and dagga. We are here so that the public can see that we are serious when we say we need to fight crime. We want the public to work with the police and our department to root out these social ills. We urge them to also work with the neighbourhood watch,” he said.
Ikamva Peacemakers chairperson, Themba Jacobs, welcomed the visit. He said he was happy that Mr Plato had listened to some of their concerns.
“This is an opportunity for young people to ask him questions.
“There are opportunities that young people can access from his department. As Ikamva, we have also been faced with challenges that we have raised with him,” he said.
However, Mr Jacobs slammed the youth for not taking these opportunities. He said there was a time when the community safety department issued forms for colleges and other institutions, but few young people came forward to take them.
“Our young people want to be spoon-fed all the time. Those who managed to take opportunities also do not want to share with others. This is the problem we are facing here,” he said. The visit also provided informal traders with a platform to air their grievances. They complained about the lack of opportunities for them and those who were 35 years and older. They said age made it difficult for them to be considered for jobs.
Informal trader Nosiyamcela Xozo said she was willing to work but there were no opportunities for those older than 35.
“Don’t you think it will be good to create chances for those who never had to empower themselves before?” she asked. She said opportunities should not only be restricted to youth.
“The government ought to think about the over 35s too. There are so many unemployed people but they are restricted by age these days. After 30 you are thrown out as if there is nothing you can do,” said Ms Xozo.