Young people from Nyanga and the surrounding areas say they are ready to sacrifice their festive holidays to help police tackle crime in the neighbourhood, as part of a partnership with Etafeni Fit for Life, Fit for Work Programme and South African Police Services and the Western Cape Youth Desk. The programme encourages youth to voluntarily assist their communities and police in dealing with crime and other work at any NGO.
According to police, the station needs at least 33 police reservists, but only 10 young people have so far heeded the call. It is hoped that the partnership would help to reduce crime in the area. For a decade Nyanga has maintained the notorious “murder capital” status for South Africa.
In an interview with Vukani on Tuesday December 6, the volunteers vowed to help police to clamp down on crime, saying Nyanga will never be the same again.
Police Youth Desk co-ordinator, Thembakazi Jacobs, said they work with all the organisations that work with youth to up-skill and develop them. She said the end result for the programme would be job creation and youth upliftment. “This is an attempt to get youth involved in their respective communities. Working with these organisations help us to identify the needed talent, and to have a healthy partnership with them and their youth,” she said.
Ms Jacobs said their programme stretched beyond Nyanga’s border and encouraged young people to join. She added that all the volunteers would go through rigorous training before starting to work. “Volunteering will give them experience, and obviously there will be job opportunities. Together with the NGOs, we always encourage young people to volunteer anywhere,” she said.
Brenda Nkondlwana, Fit for Life programme manager, said through Fit for Life they formed partnership with various government departments and NGOs to give their youth job opportunities.
The programme takes about 15 young people. They spend six weeks looking at themselves, their life stories, their goals, their values.
Ms Nkondlwana said a lot of work is also done around sexuality. “After the participants graduate from the Fit for Life course, they move into work skills training: English, computer skills, driving lessons and many other work-related courses. They are then helped to find work. We have had, for the year, an 80 percent success rate in placing our graduates in paid employment,” she said.
“We are happy with the partnership with the SAPS. We always encourage our youth to volunteer. And they should not expect results so soon.” she said.
Volunteer Nolufefe Mtalana, from Crossroads, said she was grateful to be part of a group of people who would fight crime. She said it would not be easy but was worth a try. “From what I have learnt from the programme, I am fully fit to go on and fight crime. This is an opportunity for me to help my own community and police. This is another chapter of my life as a young person,” she said.
Another reservist Ludwe Ndeleni said he volunteered with the hope of rooting out crime in his community. He said he also believed that volunteering would keep his mind occupied. “Crime is done by us as young people. It is done by young people who are sitting doing nothing. This will not only help me to get experience but to also stay away from wrong things. Crime is too high in Nyanga. I want to help in the fight,” he said.