Women unite against violence

“I wish that I was spending this time with you under different circumstances, but I am here to offer you comfort and encouragement on an issue that is tearing our communities apart.”

These were the words of Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille last Wednesday, to a group of women who have lost their children or loved ones through gang shootings and who are uniting against gang violence.

“Many of you have lost family members and children in gang violence over the years. I can never know your heartache, but I am here to say that we as mothers, sisters, grandmothers and daughters must stand together to put an end to this scourge.”

She urged mothers to stand together and report even their own children who are involved in gangsterism. “Sadly, we all know that many mothers are in denial about their children’s life of crime. Some parents hide and protect those gangsters who are causing havoc in our communities,” said De Lille. “It is impossible to place a policeman on every street. The issue of gang violence is also not a simple problem that can be fixed only through policing. We must go to the cause of what leads a child onto that path.

“It is a breakdown of the moral fabric of our entire society that leads to children not having the right role models and looking to gangsters and drug merchants as role models­.”

She said the situation can be changed.

“We all know that there are many successful people that have come from Hanover Park, Manenberg, Kewtown and from all over the Cape Flats. We need to go down to the root cause of these scourges because it cannot go on this way, where our communities are like a warzone.

“As mothers, you all need to help each other, and the community must come together to tackle these social ills. Our country has a history of strong women who stood tall against oppressors to fight for our rights. The women who marched to the Union Buildings in 1956 were brave and courageous for the sake of our whole country.

“Women in our communities must find that courage to stand up to these gangsters and claim back our communities. Women are pivotal in breaking the cycle of violence because these are our children that are being pulled into this vicious cycle.”

She urged the women to take charge of their homes. “Even in the fatherless homes, mothers are strong. We must stop pampering our sons and raising spoilt brats who think they can literally get away with murder because they got away with all kinds of wrong things in the house.

“If we want to raise men, we must make sure they learn responsibility and help in the house from a young age. We must go back to the simple principle of respect. It starts with respect for your mother and father and everyone around you.”

De Lille encouraged the mothers to gather more women every week to grow their network to assist and empower more women. The gathering ended with a candlelight ceremony to remember victims of gang violence­.