Siyabangena seeks to halt youth gangs

Parents and community leaders hear about a project to stop boys joining gangs.

Parents, community leaders and Philippi East police officers are part of a project to root out youth gangs and crime in Lower Crossroads.

The Siyabangena Youth Project is the brainchild of Sergeant Mlamli Mlumbi, a police sector manager.

Sergeant Mlumbi said for the past two years boys from Arcia and Lower Crossroads had been fighting against the boys from the Ireland section.

The boys, between the ages of 14 and 17, fought to kill with pangas, knives and their bare hands, he said, adding that it was hard to establish the reasons behind the clashes.

The project, he said, would give the boys support and guidance to stop them joining the gangs.

“I showed the boys the holding cells in the station so that they could get an idea of what a prison cell is like. I informed them in detail about the dangers of getting a criminal record and urged them to stay in school.

“We can never overemphasise that crime does not pay. If you become a criminal, there are two things that would happen to you – it’s either you are killed at a very young age or you get arrested and spend the rest of your life behind bars,” he said.

A parent from the Ireland area, Novangeli Nyanga, said the fighting was deadly and they wanted to stop it before lives were lost. Ms Nyanga said it was time parents took a stand and didn’t simply fold their arms while their children were fighting. She said when they asked the boys why they were fighting, they could not explain the root of the rivalry.

Ms Nyanga said they were getting other parents from the two areas to work together.

Chairperson of Lower Crossroads Neighbourhood Watch Thembela Jantjies, said crime was rife in the area and young people thought it was “cool” to be involved in criminal activities.

The initiative would stop the boys from getting involved in gangsterism and get them to focus on their education instead, he said.