When the Newcastillian – Online News broke the story of the Osiziweni child gangs roaming the streets freely, acting in a lawless and barbaric fashion, it shook South Africans to their very core. The thought of children butchering and burning people on the streets was an unthinkable thought to process, let alone understand.
However, due to the national attention, the Osiweni community is finally moving in the right direction and is prospectively seeing positive change in motion.
This follows an Imbizo held on 17 November 2020, seeing the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele coupled with National Commissioner General Khehla Sithole and senior SAPS management in attendance. The event was hosted at the Osizweni Community Hall with the purpose of addressing the community’s concerns surrounding ongoing increased criminal activity, committed by the youth in the area.
Speaking up, a community member at the event, Philani Nkabinde, expressed his and the community’s expectations from the Imbizo, stating, “We are hoping that through engaging with the Minister of Police and the Commissioner, we can address the issues faced by the community.”
The biggest issue is that of the child gangs, especially the Last Warning and Juveniles.
Looking at the gangs’ actions, Nkabinde says, “These gangs need to be dealt with, and the youth need to be disciplined accordingly.”
Sibusisio Mthethwa concurs that something drastic needs to be done about the gangs in Osizweni. He emphasises, “Schools are under attack, and we cannot have this happening in our community. A solution is needed to protect our children and us.”
Mthethwa adds that violence between the gangs is growing to such an extent, that stabbings are becoming a normality when the two factions clash.
With the festive season approaching, Nkabine and Mthethwa are two people out of thousands of Osizweni residents placing their faith in the SAPS. Nkabinde points out there is a group of youth who are operating around the Theku Plaza area, robbing people. This, he says, makes it difficult for people to shop in the area.
As Cele interacted with the community, General Khehla Sithole assured residents that the police had established different strategies to fight crime—including a Community Policing Strategy and a youth crime prevention initiative.
But as the police minister, Bheki Cele, and his team look at finding resolve for the Osizweni residents, who are just trying to go about their lives, without the fear of being attacked, robbed or brutally murdered by undisciplined children in a lawless environment.
Should these youth face the full extent of their actions, despite them being underage? Did they void their rights as a child when they decided to become thugs? Share your thoughts and views with us in the comment section below.
Author: Quinton Boucher & Calvin Swemmer
Edited: Calvin Swemmer