Working to keep youth off the street

When it comes to the youth and communities of Ocean View and surrounds, Zelda Martin, senior superintendent at the Social Crime Prevention and Legal Queries Unit at the Cape Town Metro Police, pulls out all stops to assist the youth with programmes to keep them off the streets.

“I joined the City’s Traffic Services in 1999 and in 2002 I joined the then City Police which is now the Metro Police.

“Ocean View is well known for the youth at risk where substance abuse, theft and housebreakings are part of their daily living. I am trying to address these problems by hosting programmes and activities to encourage them to better their lives,” Martin says.

Although she will never be able to solve the issues all by herself, she believes that the Metro Police play an integral part in building safe communities.

“Irrespective of where we reside, it is our community and we need to take accountability of what we as a community allow to happen within it.

“Every parent should take responsibility for their children­.

“My biggest challenge is when parents allow their children to play outside late at night and allow their children to walk around without knowing who the children’s friends are,” she says.

Her other challenge is when communities allow illegal activities to dictate the safety of the community.

“Residents in the different communities know about all the illegal activities, like who are the merchants, where guns are stored, who assaulted someone, but they keep mum because they are scared that they will be the next target,” she says.

She is working with 17 individuals in the communities in and around Ocean View.

“During the school holidays we host programmes in school halls or other centres to help empower the youth.

“During the June holidays the youth were encouraged to stay in school, sign on for the Cadet programme of the City, and we addressed some of their issues. My team and I are here to help the youth and I would encourage them to attend the programmes that we offer free of charge,” she says.

When she is not an officer she enjoys time with her family and spending time with God and His Word.

“When I am with my friends, there is a lot of laughter and I also like to take trips and travel often.

“But I would love to be more involved in other community projects beside those that I initiate, and work closely with other community organisations,” Martin says.

Her hobbies are reading and hiking and she recently started gardening.

She also like to braai with family and friends and watch movies.

“If I could change one thing in the communities that I serve it will be to create a safe space for everyone to live and play in.

“Children should enjoy their childhood and not be adults before their time.

“Adults should also be free of worrying if their home is the same as they left it in the morning for work or if it was burgled or damaged.

“This can only be achieved if the communities take hands and ensure that the youth and them are safe,” she says.