Scottsdene in Kraaifontein has been a gang violence hotspot this year, but on Sunday skollies and ex-gangsters laid down their guns to bat for peace instead.
Under the banner “play crime away and make a difference”, the men and teenagers played cricket to break away from the violence.
They were so determined to make it work that a police presence was not even necessary, says organiser George van Rooy, 63.
The men were placed in three teams – the Spartans, Beatles and Black Rangers – and played several games delighting the community who came out in support.
Sister Julene Skippers blessed the pitch with a heartfelt prayer and the men shook hands.
George says the day was three months in the making: “This was not a quick-fix solution, it started three months ago when we as the community decided to do something to end the gang violence here.
“I had talks with several gangs here – the Ferodos, 11-Stars, the Peacemakers and the Jaloersbokkies – to bring about peace and stop the shootings which have claimed several innocent lives.
“Today the community could see that we’ve found solutions to some of the problems and these men can play together.
“The people from Klipbok Street, Willie Street, Ashbury Court and Cassandra Court were as one on this pitch here in between our flats.”
George says they hope to formalise the cricket matches to give people an alternative to gangsterism and crime: “We’d love to get a sponsor on board to get equipment and uniforms for the players.”
Jonathan Adams, 40, who ran out for the Beatles team, says: “This was the first time that gangsters from this community played together.
“It was wonderful to see them unite.
“Normally the guys stay within their ‘borders’ but today they could walk anywhere without having to look over their shoulders.”
Wilfred Baadtjies from the Black Rangers adds: “Today we proved that we can stand together to keep blood off the streets.”
Community worker Myrtle Filander says eradicating gang violence is a team effort.
“This was really a breakthrough for our community and we hope the government will take note and assist us,” she says.
To help, contact Myrtle on 078 760 8059.