“Structural youth unemployment solutions require new thinking and new institutions” - Written by David Bruce on 26 Jun 2017.
This opinion piece was written as part of ‘Addressing Socioeconomic Drivers of Violence in Khulumani Communities,’ a participatory action research project run by Khulumani Support Group Western Cape and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. A shorter version of the opinion piece was published in the Cape Times on 26 October 2016.
Asikaqedi -- Still Struggling for Redress
This year is the 20th anniversary of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and October 29th marks 18 years since the TRC presented its final report to President Nelson Mandela. We call for support in urging the government to provide adequate education, healthcare and housing for survivors of gross human rights violations, in line with the TRC’s recommendations and the rights provided for in the constitution.
As members of the Western Cape branch of Khulumani Support Group, the national apartheid-era survivors’ organisation, we see that the situation in our communities has not changed much since the transition to democracy, despite the rights provided for in the South African constitution. Survivors of gross human rights violations still live in abject poverty and our communities are suffering from a high rate of crime and violence.
For this reason, we decided to conduct research with Khulumani members and their children and grandchildren on their understanding of how poverty and inequality relate to crime and violence. The research, which focused on area committees in Khayelitsha, aimed to show how inequality and violence have increased since apartheid, how this affects survivors, and what their solutions are to the challenges they face every day.
We found that poverty and the trauma of apartheid violence have been transferred to younger generations of Khulumani families. Young people today are struggling even more because of inequality and lack of access to opportunities. This is one of the main causes of crime and violence in our communities.
Our research shows that we need redress for the inequality entrenched by the apartheid system, in addition to apartheid-era violence, in order to see social transformation in the future.
The Khulumani members we interviewed said that although all South Africans now have equal rights, increasing inequality means that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Those with power have more access to opportunities and services, such as reliable work, quality education, good healthcare and decent housing.
Older Khulumani members had limited opportunities because of the apartheid system, and now their children and grandchildren are facing the same thing.
Employment is available mostly for those with high education levels, work experience and social networks with connections. What makes this worse in our communities is nepotism and corruption among ward councillors, some of whom give opportunities to family and friends, instead of to those who deserve them.
With the high rate of unemployment, people feel forced to take any work that is available, even if it is low-paid, short-term and does not give skills or lead to new opportunities.
Our research shows that because of unemployment and unreliable work, parents and grandparents cannot afford fees at quality schools, or even the cost of fees, uniforms and transport to under-resourced schools in our communities. This says that education is not really free.
Many youth drop out of school because they are discriminated against by teachers and other learners for not being able to afford full uniforms. Youth also drop out to provide for their families, taking what low-quality work is available. Our interviews show that some drop out because they do not expect to get reliable work even if they have matric, since their families cannot afford the tertiary education required by most employers. Like their parents before them, youth see little chance of improving their situation under these conditions.
As with education, most families cannot afford quality healthcare. Under-resourced public hospitals and clinics in our communities do not provide adequate service. Because they have too few doctors and medicines, patients may queue all day only to receive no treatment, and eventually treatment that is often low-quality or negligent. This especially affects Khulumani members and their families, who are struggling with the health effects of apartheid abuses.
Khulumani members continue every day to cope with the psychological trauma of past violations like torture, disappearances and murders of family members, unjust incarceration and forced removals, which leads to flashbacks, depression, anger and in many cases violence in the home.
Their children and grandchildren have grown up with this trauma in their lives, which is made worse by being crowded into small RDP houses or shacks in informal settlements. The intergenerational trauma of apartheid abuses has been followed by the second trauma of on-going poverty and lack of opportunities.
The Khulumani members we interviewed said that youth are despondent because they see no future for themselves, frustrated with government’s broken promises and holding more anger than older Khulumani members who had some opportunity to talk publicly about the violations of the past.
Combined with escape into alcohol and drugs, which often leads youth into housebreaking and other crime, our research says that this situation is one of the roots of violence in the home and in our communities.
As an organisation made up mostly of women, we see that women and girls are most affected both by this violence and by poverty and lack of opportunities.
Khulumani has developed many strategies for addressing these challenges, including income-generation projects, skill-building and trainings for members, recruiting youth into our programmes and ongoing advocacy around reparations.
We argue that for the current situation in South Africa to change, the government must follow the constitution and the TRC’s recommendations by providing redress for past injustices through adequate education, healthcare and housing for survivors of gross human rights violations. This must include survivors not registered on the TRC’s closed list. Asikaqedi – let’s finish what we started.
The authors are members of the executive committee of Khulumani Support Group Western Cape.
04 Jun 2013
Brutal hackings across SA have raised the spectre of Satanism and drug use in terrified communities. But the reality is more complex than that.Members of impoverished townships have found satanism to be an easy explanation for the consequences of drug use by young people. But the situation is more complex.Walking through the crowded Chris Hani Road in Chiawelo, Soweto, you can feel a chill down your spine. The silence is almost tangible and the stares are as direct and sticky as an accusation. The silence is suddenly broken by four elderly women walking past a particular house, exclaiming loudly to each other that Satanism is very much alive in their community.Their voices sink lower at the mention of the recent spate of four brutal murders, particularly that of a 95-year-old woman stabbed to death by her 38-year-old grandson on this street last week. It is alleged that he killed her for her pension money while under the influence of drugs; however neighbours are adamant that Satanism is at play.The same accusation has been flung in the case of four family members in Benoni who were brutally hacked by a 14-year-old boy using an axe. Three died and one is recovering in hospital. Community members have accused the teen of sacrificing his family in a Satanic ritual, while others believe he was under the influence of drugs – the sentiment Chiawelo residents share."Satanism is real; the instigators have made testimonies on live TV and radio. The manner in which this granny and the other family were murdered surely is a sign that our young people are not in control," said Nomvuyo Sibaya, a neighbour.She added that although drugs – particularly nyaope – were freely available in the township, this kind of behaviour was too brutal for drug addicts.Nyaope is a cocktail of, among other things, rat poison, dagga, heroin and antiretroviral medication.'The need to see blood'"Our children buy nyaope at spaza shops every day, some make their own nyaope mix, and they don't hack people to death. At most, they will steal a fridge or rob people. The need to see blood splattered is an act of Satanism," she said.Anna Moyo of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), however, attributed this behaviour to the ever growing decay of the social system. The levels of poverty, lack of prospects for the youth and the general impatience are said to be the main causes of violent crimes in South Africa."It is hard to attribute these incidents directly to Satanism as there is no extensive research done to substantiate that. The legacy of apartheid and colonialism are the key drivers. This speaks to high levels of inequality; unemployment, poverty, social and political exclusion," she said.Moyo added that drugs were widely used by perpetrators of the hackings as a result of this social context.This perspective was supported by the Institute for Security Studies's Johan Burger, a crime specialist. He insisted that South Africa may never make a significant dent in its high crime rate until it fixed the economic inequality that has resulted in one of the highest wealth gaps between the haves and have-nots in the world between.Dr Sello Mokoena of Gauteng's agriculture, rural and social development department warned against using unfounded references to Satanism as a way to derail the main scourge of alcohol and drug use. "It is difficult to comment on Satanism but this attitude undermines the fight against the social problems that need to be addressed promptly," he reiterated.Mental state of the twoSo far, police investigations have not given a clear indication of the mental state of the two accused. The social development department in the meantime said it would focus on the catastrophic implications of nyaope being so easily accessible. In both cases, it is suspected that drugs, especially nyaope, were the main catalysts. In a summit held earlier this year, social stakeholders resolved to lobby for the strengthening of law enforcement efforts to reduce access to it and other drugs.But locals in Soweto and Benoni are adamant that if drugs were the cause, such murder cases would be rife in places such as Eldorado Park, where Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane recently set up a task team to fight drug use in the area.According to the South African Police Service's figures, 60% of crimes nationally are related to substance abuse and nyaope users constitute a substantial number of users. Last year, in Gauteng alone, 25 949 drug-related crimes were recorded. Of great concern was that nyaope users were typically between the impressionable ages of 13 and 19.Yet in the impoverished community of Chiawelo and others like it, where small houses crowd upon each other and news spreads like wildfire, paranoia persists about these brutal hackings. Satanism offers a convenient explanation for gossiping elders to explain the behaviour of an alienated and often depressed youth they don't understand."Whether we say it is drugs or not, it is all a part of Satanic practices," concluded Sibaya firmly, before continuing on her way.
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Conducting Participatory Action Research with Apartheid Survivors: Lessons from ‘Addressing Socioeconomic Drivers of Violence in Khulumani Communities’Sishuba, Yanelisa, Sindiswa Nunu, Nompumelelo Njana, Agnes Ngxukuma, Brian Mphahlele and Jasmina Brankovic. 2017. Conducting Participatory Action Research with Apartheid Survivors: Lessons from ‘Addressing Socioeconomic Drivers of Violence in Khulumani Communities’. Cape Town: Khulumani Support Group Western Cape and Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.
Malose Langa & Peace Kiguwa (2013) Violent masculinities and service delivery protests in post-apartheid South Africa: A case study of two communities in Mpumalanga, Agenda, 27:1, 20-31
CSVR. April 2016. “Mapping local gender-based violence prevention and response strategies in South Africa" This study was generously funded by the Embassy of Finland.
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