Congratulations to the community of Lavender Hill.
This week, a local organisation announced the establishment of a new R10 million youth centre in the crime and gang-ridden area.
The much-needed facility will be built on a field in Blode Street which over the years has been the scene of bloody gun battles between local gangs.
So this development is definitely a step in the right direction.
The local community group, Rise Above Development (RAD), will take over the land from the City of Cape Town to start work on the project, which is being funded by an international sponsor.
Plans for the land include a music studio, internet cafe, soccer fields and netball fields with changing rooms.
RAD director Mark Nicholson says: “The vision is to create a recreational facility for our youth where they can prosper.
“Our plan is to include the community in the development so they take ownership of the facility. Work will start in the next two months.”
There is so much potential and possibility here, so much good that can come from this project.
It’s been said over and over again that policing isn’t enough to solve our crime problem.
Youngsters need exposure to constructive alternatives to gangs and drugs, especially on the Cape Flats where there’s not much available in terms of public facilities.
They need an outlet for their talents and career options.
A project like this creates job opportunities for tradesmen and women, people to run the facilities, and sports, arts and vocational trainers.
There are many benefits, but also several challenges to running a centre like this.
On social media, readers were quick to point out the pitfalls.
Andre Arendse commented: ‘I just hope that when they build it that they also maintain it and provide security to look after it. They usually just abandon the projects and then it gets vandalised.”
Rafique Gool wrote: “The people from the community will be general workers and that’s where it will stop. Not to be negative but the community won’t be employed there and in 2 to 3 months’ time the City will complain it costs them millions to fix up again.”
Gino Manuel posted: “And then the tikkoppe break it down again." Iemtieyaz Harris added: “Another white elephant that’s gonna be stripped to the bone for copper, etc.”
A cynical Peter Naude said: “All I want to know is when it is happening. Lots of promises before voting with very few actually being kept.”
Yes, all very real drawbacks. Noted.
But nothing comes easy. It’s going to take hard work and a group effort by the community and stakeholders to sustain this project.
Good luck to Mark Nicholson and his team.
We need more of these positive initiatives in our troubled communities.
And to the skollies and tikkoppe. Please man, give the kids a break and stay away from the centre.