Don’t look to police or NGOs to fix city’s crime, social ills

Cape Argus
12 March, 2014
Lester September
Portfolio: Liquor Licence and Alcohol Abuse

THE GREATER Cape Town Civic Alliance notes Social Development MEC Albert Fritz’s response (“The facts of NGO funding”, Cape Points, February 25).

It is, however, disingenuous to quote spending comparisons with other provinces, while ignoring that the highest social ills in the country fuel 70 percent of the Western Cape’s violent crime.

On the Cape Flats gang violence is increasing unabated, and children are being recruited into gangs, while the province and city stumble from one ineffectual plan to the next.

Under Fritz’s watch children’s homes have been closed without enough replacements being opened, resulting in volunteer community field workers running around unable to find accommodation for abused children living in dangerous environments.

Fritz’s facts don’t explain reports of rape, torture and mutilation of children under his watch. Early-warning programmes are nonexistent on the Cape Flats, as suggested by the rape and setting on fire of the nine-year-old girl in Delft, while little in the way of life-skill programmes are being provided in Anene Booysen’s home town.

Fritz’s facts stand in contrast to the comment by principal Ruchida O’Shea of Tafelsig High School in Mitchells Plain (“Call for schools to help sexual violence victims” Cape Argus, February 25) that Tafelsig has the highest number of teenage pregnancies, rape and gang violence, with little support in dealing with the sexually abused.

Sonke Gender Justice Network head Dean Peacock complained that children needed psycho-social support because of the violence they experienced.

A lack of social workers and psychologists based in schools and communities to identify problem households and abuses denies children protection.

With only “one psychologist for over 50 schools in Mitchells Plain, while some model C schools had one per school” is inexcusable.

Fritz needs to listen to social workers and psychologists with years of experience at the grassroot level, instead of having his colleagues in the city and province sideline them, as has happened in Hanover Park.

That a large percentage of his budget is allocated to NGOs is cold comfort to victims of crime, especially when NGOs “doing government’s job” complain of underfunding. For this purpose he must pool the resources (including extra funds) of the provincial education and community safety departments, to deal with social ills in a proactive manner, and demand that the Liquor Board be placed under his direct oversight, while supporting the ban on alcohol advertising.

Premier Helen Zille can’t simply finger police for high 2012 crime rates in the province when most of the crime is fuelled by social ills, which her government has direct oversight over, while the city’s social development department is dysfunctional.

Fritz, Zille and their colleagues are losing the fight against social ills that fuel most of our violent crime.

We demand results, and fewer excuses paraded as facts.

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