As I write this column the news of the memorial for the 18 children who died tragically in a head-on collision between a minibus taxi and a bus near Bronkhorstspruit flashes across my television screen.
Parents are gutted and remain incredulous at the magnitude of the loss of young lives. Our children are routinely conveyed to school by buses and taxis that are not regulated.
SA has a long history of kids dying in all manner of transport tragedies.
Yet we never hear President Jacob Zuma condemn such reckless acts of traffic violations, or institute an inquiry, or warn the public that we shall no longer tolerate such heinous acts of irresponsibility against our country’s children.
The MEC of education in Mpumalanga did however promise government transport for school kids forthwith. We wait in hope.
While this tragedy plays itself out in the community of Sokhulumi, down south in Elsies River, Cape Town children and residents have been caught in the crossfire of gang violence.
Four people have been killed and 10 injured, mostly young men and women, on Monday and Wednesday this past week, yet it has not made headlines on television news while the deadly boring World Economic Forum drones on.
Gang warfare between the “Terribles” versus the “Bad Boys” has been going on for months now in Elsies River and the police are either nowhere to be seen, or are simply too weak to act.
The gangs know that the police fear them, so they wreak havoc in communities fighting over drug monopolies, leadership rivals and control over turf.
Much of this gang activity is driven from inside the prisons as well, and plays itself out among innocent residents in communities on the Cape Flats.
In Leonsdale, Elsies River, young adults were playing soccer when gangsters shot at them in drive-by shootings. The videos of the gang murders are going viral.
The killings are ruthless showing family members weeping over blood splattered dead bodies.
New Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula pontificates about “shoot to kill” and that he will not tolerate criminality, yet none of the killers have been arrested. Many of them are known in the communities but police lack the will to deal with them.
The police also collude with gang leaders and are prone to bribery by them. If the Saps want to show how effective they can be, then I would challenge them to start with the gangs.
Police neglect within communities is not only because police fear the gangs, but because much of the gang warfare happens in drug-infested poor coloured communities.
Radical transformation is necessary to create community participation in identifying crime hotspots.
Community Policing Forums are a sine qua non for the eradication of crime but these forums need to trust the police, should be equipped with resources, and justice needs to be seen to be done.
According to local news reports, witnesses could clearly identify who the gangsters were who shot at the young people walking home in a group. Yet little is done to arrest the killers.
For as long as Saps remains a national competence, localised crime and criminal gangs will flourish and grow.