Home PodcastMaryam Mkwanda Eldorado Park community stand up against gun violence

Eldorado Park community stand up against gun violence

by Zahid Jadwat

In 1965, under the Group Areas Act, Eldorado Park was declared an Area for the exclusive settlement of Coloured South Africans. It became a part of Johannesburg in 1970 Photo sahistory.org.za 

Frustrated members of the Eldorado Park community, south of Johannesburg, marched to their local Police station on Sunday. They called for an end to gun violence and drug abuse within the community. They also demanded the removal of the local station commander.

The march was led by the Guns Down movement, a youth-led initiative seeking an end to gun violence and drug abuse. Addressing the crowd, community activist Shona Buhr decried the impact of these issues.

“Gun violence does not have a positive impact on our communities at large. Our fifteen-year-olds are being handed firearms. Our fifteen-year-olds are being exposed to gangsterism,” she said.

“The aim of the Guns Down initiative is to bring about unity so that everybody can be part of the decision making. Many a time young people are left out of the decisions, but today we are taking a stand. We are all taking a stand as young people and together we are gonna fix our community.”

The march was also attended by Cllr Margaret Arnolds, a member of the African Independent Congress (AIC), who said the safety of youngsters was close to her heart.

“What is close to my heart is the children that are young and these are the people that are supposed to be our future,” she said.

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Station commander

Angry members of the Eldorado Park community handed over a 12-point memorandum to provincial police commissioner Elias Mawela. They accused law enforcement officials of doing little to eradicate gun violence and drug abuse. Much of the heat was on the local commander, whom they wanted to be removed.

One of the prominent demands was deploying more police resources to the area. While Mawela promised to address each point, he said the relevant stakeholders would be consulted on the issue of the police commander.

“He said that as the management team, he will address that and get back to us and we will have wait on the outcome of that because he listens to the feedback from the different stakeholders and he said that the management team will address it,” said Chanelle George, who led the march.

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‘We might as well be wiped out’

Shona Buhr said it was important for the Eldorado Park community to stand up against gun violence because it seriously threatened their lives.

“It’s getting out of hand, and if we are not going to take a stand now, we might as well just be wiped out. It’s happening everyday [in] Lenasia, Westbury, [and] Eldorado Park. We are all equally affected and if we do not take a stand right now, then do we have a tomorrow?”

Buhr said the turnout at the march was not surprising, as the community is simply fed up with the ongoing gangsterism.

“I’m not surprised by the overwhelming intake because I think that everybody had enough of gangsters and shootouts running our communities,” she said.

In June, four people, including two children, were shot in an apparent turf war. The children were believed to have been returning from school when stray bullets reportedly hit them.

“As a young person, it’s constant fear… It’s constantly being vulnerable, it’s constantly being exposed and exploited. It’s not safe for any of us,” said Buhr.

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