Programme keeps children safe during school holidays

Xolelwa Sikrenya had a busy day. Hordes of children queued to paint their faces.

To keep children occupied during the past school holiday, the City of Cape Town ran an integrated school programme hosted by the City’s Library and Information Services (LIS) and the Sport, Recreation and Amenities (SRA), Social Development and City Parks departments as well as the mayoral Urban Regeneration Programme.

The departments made sure that working parents had no worries about where their children were during the week-long holiday. The annual programme ran at the Khayelitsha Wetlands Park in Makhaza from Monday October 3 to Friday October 7.

Excited Mayco member for community services, Anda Ntsodo, came to address the hordes of children last Friday.

He said the programmes were designed to encourage children from communities throughout the city to participate in recreation, sport, crafts, and special events during the holiday. Mr Ntsodo commended the organisers who made sure there was a range of options for children to choose from.

“This is what we want. Parents did not have to worry about the whereabouts of their children. There was no need for one to worry about children getting involved in illegal activities or being raped. Big up to the City and its workers for a job well-done. We are doing this not only in Khayelitsha but in most of the province. Children are the future and they must be protected at all times,” he said.

He said when the park was built 10 years ago there was a long-term vision in place to develop it and serve the communities needs through the facility. He said the place used to be a crime hot spot but since the development of the wetland park, crime had reduced. “From the very beginning of the planning stages, it was encouraged that Khayelitsha Wetlands Park should be developed as a landmark urban park that would create environmental awaress owing to the great biodiversity that exist here. “That it would provide all Khayelitsha residents and visitors with access to recreational and economic opportunity and provide a safe space for communities to call their own,” he said.

He urged residents and children to take pride in the park by looking after it. Young Sibongile Chithwa was among many young children who attended the programmes.

“Kumnandi apha siyadlala (It is nice here, we have a lot of games,” is all he said when Vukani tried to talk to him.

Nontuthuzelo Mtwane, co-ordinator for social crime prevention for the Mayoral Urban Regeneration Programme, appealed to people of Khayelitsha to take ownership of the park and said she was happy that they had been able to reduce crime through the establishment of the park.