A Safer South Africa Foundation Anti-Gang campaign has been launched in the following areas in North West Province, Khuma, Ventersdorp and Leeudoringsstad. The initiative is comprised of workshops, often presented by ex-gang members and ex-offenders, whereby young people are engaged in discussions around the issue of gangs and in particular the negativity involved in leading such lifestyles. Options for alternative lifestyles are discussed and encouragement is given for the adoption of a personal development plan. To complement the workshops a competition has been organised whereby all people in that catchment area, under the age of 25, are invited to design and develop a poster with a distinct anti-gang message.
“The aim of the poster competition is to encourage young people to think seriously about the alternatives to a gang lifestyle, it also serves to deter youngsters from actively participating in or being initiated into criminal gangs,” says Paul Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of SSAF. Wilson added: “Gang related violence is a reality among many communities in North West Province and everyone, including learners, should be made aware of the dangers associated with certain gang-related practices”.
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Purpose of the Anti-Gang campaign
- to raise awareness and focus attention to a very important youth safety issue that is present in the community
- to increase the understanding and insidious nature of gangs in our community
- to increase the understanding of the sociological characteristics of neighborhood gangs and possible links between gangs and prison inmates.
- to explore potential strategies to enable gang members to safely exit the gang culture
- to utilise and share knowledge generated from the workshops and the campaign for the benefit of present and future prevention and intervention
At the conclusion of the campaign it is envisaged that members of the community and workshop participants will have an increased understanding of:
- The prevalence and seriousness of youth gangs in North West Province
- The nature of the membership and potential for criminality
- The effect of gang membership in terms of future career prospects
- The role of females in gangs and the potential for serious sexual abuse
- The need for-ordinated multi-agency approaches
The anti-gang programme concluded with the announcement of the anti-gang poster competition winners at a ceremony held in Kgakala township, Leeurdoringstad on Saturday 16th March, where prizes were awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd placed entries. Following the prizegiving ceremony volunteers posted the winning posters in various locations around the town, thereby helping to promote and spread the anti-gangsterism message in a very positive and funlike way.