Youngsters in Parkwood are taking back their community from skollies by removing all the gang graffiti and destroying the demarcation of “turfs”.
On Mandela Day on Sunday over 50 youngsters hit the streets armed with paint and brushes as they revamped various public spaces.
The event, hosted by the Grassy Park Youth Desk Crime Prevention Unit, was supported by police, the community policing forum and Mayco member for Safety and Security, JP Smith.
Deputy CPF chairperson, Saadiqah Ganief, says the main event was held at a playpark in Blackbird Avenue and surrounding streets.
“We chose to paint the parks and surroundings because of the gang slogans,” Saadiqah says.
“The aim of the mass paint drive was to stand up against gangsterism in our communities and clean up the environment.
“As the Youth Desk, we say no more to gang violence; we say enough is enough for ongoing shootings and we are taking our streets back.”
She says as gangs mark their territories many youngsters feel like they are living under apartheid rules as they are forbidden from entering other areas.
The walls were marked with gang tags such as JFK (Junky Funky Kids), MG (Mongrels) and UA (Ugly Americans).
Saadiqah continues: “We chose to do this as our 67 minutes because the significance of the day follows Madiba and his role in leading our country to a democracy.
“We are leading our communities to freedom; freedom against the territory claims gangsters put on the infrastructure of the communities.
“Residents are restricted when residing in a particular section so you are not allowed to walk freely because you do not live in the other gang’s territory.”
Saadiqah says they want to show the community that youth are standing up to make a change.
The gang tjappies were replaced with children’s handprints, symbolising their message of taking back their streets.
She adds: “We were limited by time but we are going to do the entire Parkwood and then move onto Lotus River and Ottery.”