Mitchell’s Plain youth are honing their discipline and skills through the art of drilling.
They march to the beat of the drum to keep away from gangsterism and drugs.
Qieyaam Andrews, 14, from Eastridge, said marching with the Mitchell’s Plain Community Cadets was better than joining a gang. “It is sad to see children our age die,” he said.
Shannon Lee Gordon, 15, also from Eastridge, said she was glad that they can get a lift to training at the Thusong Centre, now known as the Nelson Mandela Youth and Family Centre, in Tafelsig.
Kevin Cupido, secretary of the cadets, registered as a non-profit organisation, recently said that the programme was started in 2016 and that he and community activist Berenice Roman had put heads together to revive the programme to keep children off the streets.
Mr Cupido, a retired Mitchell’s Plain police station officer who worked with police reservists, said it was important to occupy the youth with positive activities.
Since February up to 40 youth, aged between 6 and 18, pitch for training on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 3pm and 4.30pm, when they perform at events at the weekend.
“We do funerals, birthday parties, matric balls and celebrations. We ask for donations, which mainly cover the costs of our petrol,” Mr Cupido said.
Mr Cupido fetches the children from across Mitchell’s Plain, including Westridge, Tafelsig bordering Khayelitsha, Portland, and Beacon Valley.
He runs cadet programmes in Macassar, Delft and Strand.
Trustee Janap Andrews said she goes with her grandchildren. “Children do naughty things on the road if you don’t keep them occupied,” she said.
Coach Joseph Williams said he was proud of their achievement since starting in February.
He said a few parents were committed to supporting the programme and that they could always do with more help.
The Plainsman visited the crew on Friday afternoon, the day before they were expected at a funeral, for which they were saving their uniform.
They wear white school shirts, bow-ties, grey pants, socks and school shoes. Occasionally their look includes a pull-over jersey.
Mr Cupido said they have approached sponsors because sometimes the shirts missed buttons, were off-white and many could not afford new or were not able to keep their uniform in pristine condition.
They hope to participate in the Mitchell’s Plain Schools Marching Drill Competition as a community cadet squad at Stephen Reagon Sportsfield on Saturday October 14.
For more information, to join or to support the cadets, call Mr Cupido on 061 944 0828.