9 July 2018

South Africa: Residents 'Take Back' Their Community With Clean-Up Initiative

A group of mostly young Netreg residents carrying spades, brooms and blue dirt bags spent the morning on Saturday picking up rubbish near the train station. It was part of the Peace My City initiative started by the International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) to clean up and promote peace in Cape Flats communities.

The area was littered with chip packets and a section under a bridge near the station was being used as a dumping site. The group, supported by local organisations as well as the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), cleared the area by Saturday afternoon.

The Food for Life organisation provided snacks and refreshments throughout the day. Event organisers say while the project is aimed at creating clean spaces, it hopes to encourage the youth to stay off the streets, away from crime and drugs.

Resident Cecelia Rayners (50) said she participated in the project to make a difference in a bid to bring about change in the community. "There's a big need in our place, as you can see there's a lot of poverty and crime, and we want peace in our area."

Bonteheuwel Joint Peace Forum member, Nadia Maymam (48) said the initiative encouraged residents to take pride and ownership of their communities. "We need to start with the little things, restoring pride and dignity and to ask the community to take ownership of their area."

Ward 31 councillor Jonathan Cupido said the aim was to show people that there were positive things happening in Netreg rather than all of the reports of crime. "This community has always made news for bad things. The project proves to people out there that there's a lot of positive things happening here." Cupido said, "The bigger picture is to create a peace area within the community with work opportunities. It will also give children and the community a different perspective."

The IPYG launched the Peace My City campaign on 22 April 2017 in Gugulethu and it has since spread to various crime-ridden communities in Cape Town.

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