NGOs demand ‘safer communities for all’

People living with disabilities make their voices heard.

People living with disabilities were among close to 100 concerned residents who took to the streets of Philippi last Friday to say enough is enough to high crime rates.

Protesters from the Silikhaya Disability Centre, Mosaic Training, Service and Healing Centre, Iqhakaza and Disabled Rights Matter, many in wheelchairs, started the 5km route at the centre of Browns Farm where they sang and danced in memory of victims of crime and gender-based violence (GBV).

Some held up banners that read “Enough is enough”, while others carried big banners of their organisations.

They were accompanied by the members of Gugulethu, Nyanga and Philippi East police stations.

Silikhaya Disability Centre organiser Akhona Majija said they have seen people robbed and some killed in broad daylight.

He said they could no longer sit and watch while many are dying at the hands of criminals.

“The problem we have is that the crimes are committed by young people aged between 14 to 20. This is a big concern to us as disabled people. We thought if they see us in wheelchairs and crutches they would have a conscience and stop this nonsense. But we also appeal to parents to guide and educate their children about crime and its effect on them,” he said.

The protesters in black T-shirts urged others to join them in the fights against crime and also made a call to amaphela (mini-bus taxis) drivers to stop discriminations against those on wheelchairs.

“As much as we are concerned about crime, the lives of people living disabilities are also important. We have taxi drivers who are not willing to take us in their transport because of our disability. It should come to an end,” he said.

The march ended at Bongolethu Primary School where speeches were delivered. A memorandum was also handed out to the three police station members.

However, protesters made it clear to the representatives that they would need a response when they meet again in a meeting scheduled for this week.

Mosaic member who handed the memorandum, Thembile Dyule, said as the group of organisations and activists they demand justice for all. “It is not the memorandum that points fingers but that shows gaps that need to be rectified. We need to show each other where we lack and where we can work together as organisations and police,” said Mr Dyule.

Among the demands the organisations listed on the memorandum is a safe shelter for women, children, men and Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex plus people. It said all victims of GBV should have access to a safe space, and safe and reliable transport for victims to travel to the shelters outside the community.

The organisations also demanded that all SAPS stations commanders prioritise GBV case progress reports and ensure a weekly report from the SAPS members.

The members must also be equipped with resources to perform their mandated duties. They also demanded that the department of social development GBV social workers be present, visible and responsive to the needs of victims. The organisations said they look forward to the proposed solutions and hoped that their demands would be taken seriously.

Akhona Majija has called on parents to guide their children not to do commit crime.
Police signed a memorandum while Zoleka Mali form Mosaic looks on.