Members of the Nelson Mandela Bay branch of the International Women’s Peace Group showed solidarity with Port Elizabeth’s gang-embattled Schauderville community on Saturday when they led a walk supporting an end to violence in the area.
The group – which lobbies for peace and provides support and assistance in embattled communities around the world – took part in the initiative amid a strong police presence.
Led by a band, the colourful and vibrant walk, which was held in the vicinity of David Livingstone High School, was hallmarked by prayers and shouts for peace.
Speaking during the event, children told The Herald they hoped the peace walk would bring stability to their area as they were too scared to go to school.
One Grade 10 pupil said: “Going to school scares me these days because it is dangerous in this area.
“We are getting robbed and assaulted. We hope this walk will bring change in our area.”
In a memorandum handed over to newly appointed municipal safety and security chairman John Best, community members demanded high police visibility before and after school at all the schools in Schauderville.
The memorandum also contained requests for a youth development centre to keep children occupied and away from drugs, and a request to have David Livingstone High School fenced off to ensure the safety of teachers and pupils.
Humeathia Draai, one of the organisers of the event and a member of the David Livingstone school governing body, said everyone was sick and tired of living in fear.
“The gangsters should be dealt with. Our kids need to feel safe at their schools,” Draai said.
“Our biggest concern is the pupils and the teachers who are robbed. We had a recent incident at David Livingstone where a pupil was brutally assaulted. ”
“The community has reached a point where we have realised we need divine intervention and unity. “Our youth are being destroyed by gangs and drugs.We fear for the safety of our kids.”
“Pupils have to pay gangsters a protection fee to ensure they are not hurt or robbed.”
Draai said drugs were being sold on school premises and teachers were being robbed in classrooms.
“We need the SAPS to intervene, we see young men being killed in broad daylight. “We hope to receive feedback within seven days,” Draai said.
Accepting the memorandum from the community and on behalf of metro mayor Athol Trollip, Best said the matter was receiving the highest level of attention.
“I support the peace walk 100% because we need to take back our streets. A copy of the memorandum will be given to the police,” Best said.
“I can assure you that the issue of gangsterism in this area is currently being addressed at a very high level.”