The report and findings of the Joint Forum on Policing do not come as a surprise to the UDM.  Since the latest flare-up of gang related violence in the Western Cape, we have on more than one occasion warned that we believe the right approach is not taken.  Furthermore the fact that gangsterism became part of National Priority Crimes and Operation Crackdown as an afterthought, illustrates the insensitivity and inability of the SAPS to deal with this problem.

The fact that this is not a new problem, but almost 30 years old, confirms 
the UDM's belief that gangsterism has become a way of life and that the way of living should be changed in order to make a difference.  As much as children grow up in communities without gang activities, finish school, study or find a work, the circle for children within gang infected communities, more often than, not ends up with gang membership.  This becomes a way of life; it becomes a way of making a living.

We support the plea for a more holistic approach.  In fact, the UDM two weeks ago asked the Minister of Safety and Security to adopt a multidisciplinary approach.  An alternative lifestyle to the lifestyle of gangsterism needs to be put in place.  Without an alternative, there remains for a majority of Cape Flats community members no other choice than gangsterism.

The SAPS and Government from time to time win the battle against gangs, but they never win the war.  It is shortsighted to think that you can come in, reduce the level of violence, leave and consider the problem to be solved. The communities affected by gang violence must be involved in finding a solution.  They should be driving the process of creating an alternative, with the state providing the necessary infrastructure and support.

The UDM would like to see the following Departments and Ministries involved: 1. The Department of Safety and Security: on an ongoing basis through visible policing and intelligence gathering.

2. The Department of Education: This department should play a leading role in developing, within the minds of learners, an alternative to gangs.  They should also be involved in training learners and the community in non-violent conflict solution skills.  The Department of Education should involve itself in the community in skills developing programmes for young adults who have left school.

3. The Department of Sport and Recreation and the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology: An assessment of the recreational activities of these areas must be done and a study conducted to determine the requirements and needs of the communities involved.  Are there recreational facilities and are they sufficient, or were they put there because somebody somewhere decided this is what the community wants?

4. The Department of Trade and Industry: Gangs becomes not only a way of living but also a way of making a living.  This Department should look into the possibility to establish Enterprise Development programmes within these communities that would allow for alternative and legal sources of income. Enterprise Development programmes are desperately needed for the benefit and upliftment of the whole community.

5. The Department of Public Works: This department should look at public work projects that can be implemented in these communities, with a view to improving infrastructure and creating jobs.

6. The Department of Health and the Department of Welfare for the obvious contributions that they will be able to make in terms of counselling and health training with regard to issues such as substance abuse, AIDS and teen pregnancy.

7. Local Government must be involved since its is this level of Government that is the closest to the community and in many ways are best placed to assess the true needs of the community.

There are more departments that can, and should get involved.  However, the overriding determining factor should be the involvement of the community and organised community structures such as churches and civics.  If Government fails to get the community involved we will end up with another problem, at which money was thrown, but no results achieved and it will continue for another 30 years.

As long as the gang problem is not addressed, democracy and freedom will not be a reality for these communities.  For them life is no different than 30 years ago.

Annelizé van Wyk, MP
UDM Spokesperson Safety and Security

1 June 2000