Don’t GNU forget about me

Speak-out held to mark Youth Day at Noluntu Soup Kitchen in Khayelitsha yesterday. Photo by Vincent Lali

Khayelitsha residents attending the speak-out organised by Cry of the Xcluded decried the loss of every sense of security.

Cry of the Xcluded – a political forum of the marginalised – has called for the government of national unity, just formed by the ANC and the DA, to implement policies that address the root causes of youth unemployment and economic inequality. In a speak-out that was held to mark Youth Day in Khayelitsha, residents expressed their views about poor service delivery at Sassa (SA Social Security Agency) and Khayelitsha Home Affairs, the deteriorating quality of healthcare facilities, unsafe transport, and the lack of community safety and police visibility.

Residents sleep for days
outside Sassa offices
to apply for a grant
they often won’t get

Siziphiwe Dunjane, Western Cape organiser of the Cry of the Xcluded, said the relocation of the Sassa offices from the Khayelitsha Mall area forces residents to spend their hard-earned cash on transport to Kuyasa, where the offices are now located. “The reason you ask for a government grant is that you don’t have money, but poor and unemployed residents have to spend their last monies on taxis to Sassa offices. Residents sleep outside Sassa offices for days to apply for a grant, only to be told they don’t qualify for it. You don’t qualify for a government grant if your husband works,” she said.

She and other residents want the government to employ more staff at local clinics: “Nurses are battling to handle long queues at our clinics because of staff shortages. They are overwhelmed with work.”

One resident told Khayelitsha cops attending the speak-out that she feared to report crime because cops collaborate with thugs. “I’m scared to report crime to the police because they will reveal my
identity to the criminals, and I may end up dying,” she said. Warrant officer Nosphiwo Mntengwane said residents must report cops who ignore their cases to the station commander. She called upon the residents to work as police informers to earn money and to combat crime.

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Protection fee gangs
run amok in Site C

Helen Makebesana, chairperson of Sisonke Neighbourhood Watch, said protection fee gangs are running amok in Site C. “The gangs shoot people and rob business owners every day. They rob workers and students at bus stops in the mornings. Now everybody stays indoors as they fear to venture out,” she said. Makabasana said: “Police patrol in the streets, but thugs operate in the dark alleys in congested areas. We can make a difference and reduce crime if the police join us when we patrol in congested areas,” she said.

Cry of the Xcluded said that youth unemployment remains one of the most pressing issues that the country is facing. “For many young South Africans, economic exclusion is a daily reality. The lack of job opportunities, coupled with inadequate support for entrepreneurship and small businesses, leaves them with limited options. This economic exclusion fuels poverty and social instability,” reads their statement.

The forum is calling for the unity of young people to demand that the government of national unity invests in job creation alternatives, urgently introduces a basic income grant of at least R1,750 per month, ends budget cuts that hurt the marginalised, and begins taxing the rich more.

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