25 September 2019
Over 150 people, mostly children, marched through the streets of Elsies River on Tuesday calling for an end to violence.
Organised by activist group #UniteBehind, the protesters sang struggle songs and chanted “genoeg is genoeg, ons is moeg” (enough is enough, we are tired) and “Down with killing down! Down with murder down!”
The march had a brief stop in Clarke Estate outside the property where three children and a teenager were killed in gang-related violence on 17 September. Here community leaders made speeches and called for residents to join the fight against violence. The Wendy house where the murders happened has since been removed.
Tamron January, an activist for #UniteBehind and an Elsies River resident, said they were marching through the area to tell both the gangsters and the government that they were fed up. January said that the crime rate in the community was “ridiculous”.
According to the 2019 crime stats, Elsies River had 90 murders, a large increase on previous years (58, 65 and 54 in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively). In July the South African National Defence Force was deployed to gang-ridden hot spots on the Cape Flats, including Elsies River, to assist with police operations. The deployment was meant to end in September but has since been extended to March 2020.
Bevin Poole is an 18-year-old #UniteBehind youth activist. He said that one of his best friends “JJ” was shot and murdered in Elsies River last year. JJ was 17. “He was like a brother to me”. Poole said that losing his friend was “an eye opener” and communities needed to come together to fight violence. “We’ve had enough killing, we’ve had enough violence, we’ve had enough murders,” he said.
“In every corner there’s gangsters,” said a 13-year-old girl who joined the march. She said she had to walk 20 minutes to school with her seven-year-old sister, and strange men sometimes called out her name and called her “sweetie pie”. “I don’t feel safe,” she said.
The march was supported by members of Right2Know and the Bishop Lavis Action Community.