The recent tragedy which occurred at Osi’s place tavern in Makhaza, Khayelitsha, eight young women most of them underage were killed and others injured after a staircase railing collapsed highlights the problem of a serious lack of recreational facilities for township youth.
Elitsha took it upon itself to investigate the extent and the state of recreational and sports facilities for young people in the area. It found that there is only one park which is in a good condition and a dilapidated youth centre, no longer in use.
Like the rest of Khayelitsha, Makhaza is struggling with high levels of drug and alcohol abuse.
Nomvuselelo Ndikandika the Chairperson of the Community Sector Forum in Makhaza says it is an uphill battle for the residents of Makhaza and its leadership to stop the high levels of drug and alcohol abuse. “Young people are lured into joining gang, doing drugs and alcohol abuse because they do not have extramural activities to do and this is due to lack of facilities,” she said.
Ndikandika said there are many taverns in the area that are operating without a license and even those that do have the license to operate do not adhere to the rules. She added that they have tried to engage with tavern owners about the safety of their patrons and closing their taverns early. However, their efforts proved to be fruitless.
According to Ndikandika a performance art group was started three years ago in an effort to halt the scourge of gangsterim, but yet they are still struggling to host their rehearsals because they do not have a place.
Nolubabalo Ngalo, 18, said young people in Makhaza should take a lesson from what happened and there must be heavy punishment to tavern owners who allow underage people to enter their taverns. Ms Ngalo echoed these sentiments and said: “We need facilities that will enable us to unearth our talents instead of having dozens of taverns, which are no good to our youth and we appeal to our leaders to build facilities rather than misusing the funds.” Another angry young person from Makhaza, Nolukholo Baleni, 24, blamed the provincial government for turning a blind eye to the needs of the youth who come from impoverished areas.
She felt that the parents must also take responsibility for their children’s whereabouts.
Ncedile Dudumashe, deputy chairperson of the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) urged the taverns owners to work hand in hand with local leaders in ensuring that what happened at Osi’s place never happens again and emphasised that they do not intend to close their businesses, but they need to comply with the rules. Dudumashe said they have patrols, which they conducted occasionally in an attempt to prevent tragedies. He also added that for doing this, they have received death threats, but they are adamant that nothing will stop them from doing what’s right.