While most South Africans celebrated Human Rights Day in their homes with their loved ones, young people tired of crime and other social ills in Nyanga, took to the streets to express their unhappiness about the situation in their neighbourhood.
The march was organised by different organisations, including iNyanga Yethu Activation – a youth movement that strives to keep young people away from drugs and crime – and the community police forum (CPF), with police keeping a close watch on the proceedings. The youth marched to Mahobe Drive Park, where they met with about 200 people, mostly women and children. Representatives of the Human Rights Commission for Gender Equality were also present.
Nyanga is seen as one of the country’s crime hot spots, with murder being on top of the list.
Secretary of iNyanga Yethu, Yongama Plaatjie, said the purpose of the march was to draw parents’ attention to some of the challenges faced by their children. “It is Human Rights Day, and to young people it is another opportunity to frequent shebeens. This is what we are fighting as iNyanga Yethu,” said Mr Plaatjie.
He appealed to seniors and parents to work with them. “We do almost everything that young people long for. We do not want them to be complaining that we have certain programmes that exclude them. We do music, poetry, theatre, drama, sport like basket ball and soccer and we also have movies. But now we are asking for more assistance from the parents. We are asking for a better Nyanga, a Nyanga where we all can to walk freely,” he said.
CPF chairperson Sandile Martin said he believed police were doing their best but lacked resources.
He said there were numerous plans to fight crime including the Youth Human Rights Festival. Through the festival he said they wanted to build a working relationship between the CPF and youth structures in the community.
“We are indeed hoping that the relationship will improve,” he said, adding that the interventions should assist in dealing with crime.
Mr Martin said he hoped the initiative would spread in all the sectors in Nyanga, adding that there had already been calls from residents to the CPF to organise more events like this one.
“Yes, Nyanga is very rich in terms of arts and culture. Traditionally our area used to be very strong in sports and arts, and culture and it is our resolution as the current CPF leadership to revive that culture, although we have limited resources,” he said.
Police spokesperson Captain Ntomboxolo Sitshitshi encouraged the youth to be part of the solution. She said the fact that young people were active to march on the streets means a lot to police.
“We are so grateful to iNyanga Yethu for what they are doing. We have been monitoring their progress. They are doing sterling work bringing young people together. May they continue with that,” she said.