Nyanga residents gatvol of gang violence have taken the law into their own hands by disarming teen skollies and sending them back to school.
Community members of Crossroads in Nyanga say they were tired of seeing their children chasing each other with guns and pangas.
The township is regarded as the “murder capital” of SA, after police statistics recorded the highest number of killings there in the past few years.
Violence between the Vuras and Vatos gangs have claimed the lives of four young men this year.
Mense say some of the schoolboy skollies are as young as 12, and roam the streets night and day looking for trouble.
Many have dropped out of school and joined the gangs after being bullied, while some of them were expelled for fighting on school grounds.
Community leader Mlungisi Noludwe says in June he was approached by a group of fed-up mothers who asked him to intervene.
“I called both sides and I called their parents,” he explains.
“But before we began, I told them we would not get anywhere if they were still holding onto their weapons.”
He says the boys surrendered their weapons willingly.
“What came from these children was scary, not just knives but also pangas, homemade swords and even four firearms which we have handed over to police,” says Mlungisi.
“This year alone four youths have died as a result of these fights, but since we got them to stop, there hasn’t been any more bloodshed.
“We have even approached some schools to take them back (which they did) because having them hang around doing nothing would lead to more troubles.”
One woman says her little brother joined the Vuras gang in 2010, when he was just 12 years old.
“He wasn’t very active then but it got worse last year and he was sent to the Eastern Cape,” she says.
“We found out he was in a gang because our house was stoned by these boys looking for him, and they chased him with knives.”
Asked why they were fighting, shockingly, most of the boys say they cannot remember, only that it “had something to do with a cellphone”.
A 17-year-old former Vura says: “This is the second time we have been told to stop and our group stopped but the others started it again when they killed our friend.
“We had to show that we were not weak by fighting back. I’m willing to be peaceful but they should not start.”
One gogo, 55, begged her 19-year-old grandson to return to school.
“I just want them to stop this, there is no future in it other than dying young.”