’Activism starts at home’

Strandfontein informal settlement residents speak out against abuse.

Youth from Strandfontein informal settlements took to the streets to speak to their neighbours and encourage them to speak out against abuse and violence.

They painted posters and banners before visiting Masincedane, City Mission and Oppermans Oord informal settlements, on Camp Road, coinciding with the start of the national 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, on Thursday November 25.

They have been attending a youth programme called Y-Justice at the YMCA Cape Flats base at the Rotary camp in Strandfontein.

Diago James, 14, from Masincedane, said: “I’m here to change my community – from an abusive relationship to them speaking out and getting the help they need.

“I want to support my community and show that we love, support and respect each other,” he said.

Zohrah Curnow, 14, from Oppermans Oord said abuse was any act of violence against any gender.

“It is not always just physical. It is emotional, mental, verbal, environmental and financial, when you feel threatened or harmed,” she said.

Facilitator Tebogo Votyeka, 25, said it was about spreading the message of awareness and raising their voices against violence.

John-Lee Lewis, 15, from Masincedane, said he wanted to stop violence and abuse but that he needed to exercise self-control first.

“I can only do so much. As much as I want to stop the fight, I need to control my anger and show the parties involved that there is a better way to resolve conflict,” he said.

Y-Justice programme director, Berenice Roman, said it all started in February during the national Covid-19 lockdown, when pupils attended alternate school days.

“We wanted to keep the youth off the streets, keep them busy and create a safer space, where they could come together and be kept occupied,” she said.

They would teach the youth life skills, advocacy, leadership and about masculinity so they may carve better futures for themselves.

Youth aged between 10 and 17 are welcome to join between 10.30am and 1pm, when they cannot attend school.

The programme also included self-defence classes.

Tamia Gow, another facilitator, said they did not have all of the answers but they had the resources to refer the person for professional help.