UNITED DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT
LETTER TO PRESIDENT
17 May 2001
2. It is estimated that approximately 5% of Cape Town's population belong to 280 gangs.
The majority of gang members are between the ages of 12 and 25.
1. Gangs and organised crime are directly involved in the burgeoning illicit drug trade, adding to the negative socio-economic impact gangs have on society, especially the youth and under-privileged. It has been estimated that 50% of drug users started at the tender age of 13!
Gangs and organised crime have been linked to so-called "protection
rackets" and urban terror.
is evident that current approaches to deal with the gang problem have not
been successful. Neither Operation Crackdown, nor any other government
programme, is geared towards long-term prevention and eradication of gangs
or address the social roots of the gang problem. The current "quick
fix" seems to amount to little more than the temporary deployment of
SANDF and SAPS personnel to selected hot spots. The UDM suggests that a
holistic approach involving all tiers of government is required,
specifically in the sectors of Safety and Security, Social Development,
Education, Sport and Recreation, Health as well as Arts, Culture, Science
· That the best possible intelligence people from the SAPS be made available to fully investigate and formulate an understanding of the problem. They should make use of international experts where necessary. This was done in a limited fashion when urban terror was at its highest levels in Cape Town.
· That the matter is addressed in a holistic interdepartmental manner and a two-fold approach be considered. Firstly, immediate action by the SAPS and the courts, and secondly a medium term programme to implement socio-economic upliftment programmes in certain areas of Cape Town to eradicate the culture of gangsterism, introduce alternatives and prevent "breeding grounds" for it. This should include:
Ø The Department of Safety and Security: on an ongoing basis through visible policing and intelligence gathering.
Ø 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 schools.
Ø 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?
Ø 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.
Ø The Department of Public Works: This department should look at public work projects that can be implemented in the affected communities, with a view of improving infrastructure and creating jobs.
Ø 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 AIDS, substance abuse and teen pregnancy.
Ø Local Government: must be involved because it 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.
Be assured of my party's full support and active participation in finding a long-term solution that will deal with a problem that we believe is still marginalizing a substantial sector of our society. 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.
Your urgent attention and response to this serious problem will be appreciated.