Focus Group 2: 18:00
· FOCUS GROUP 2/ Residents Making a Difference
Our focus group was held in a small house in King’s Flats in the evening at a time when everybody was free. It was filmed, recorded and photographs and notes were taken.
The focus group discussion was held in both English and isiXhosa, with the Xhosa members of our group interpreting.
Our focus group consisted mainly of older people from about 30 up to 80 years old. There were no children or youths present. Several members of a community policing forum were present.
The majority of the participants agreed that the main perpetrators of crime were the youth, and even children. Much of this crime was carried out by gangs. Some of the crimes the focus group said were most common were robbery, theft and mugging – sometimes people were stripped naked and their clothes stolen.
The shebeens were identified as a major source of crime, especially since they are open the whole night. Many young people and even children as young as 12 would apparently drink at the taverns. There were many reports of fights and many people were apparently robbed, sexually assaulted and even murdered around the shebeens. A lot of this crime was committed by youth gangs, who relied on strength in numbers. The police were apparently ineffective at stopping such crimes – one policemen was even a shebeen owner.
Almost the whole focus group believed that the cause for much of the crime and violence perpetrated by young people in Extensions 6 and 7 was a lack of discipline. They believed that if they could discipline their children properly, they would behave and almost all of them were in favour of brining back corporal punishment. They insisted that children have too many rights and are cheeky to their parents because they know that the law will protect them and they can always call child services or the police if their parents beat them. Although the focus group was critical of the laws that protect children and wanted them to fall away, they refused to comment on reintroducing the death penalty.
A lot of the crime problems among the youth were blamed on the use of drugs. The focus group participants said that about 15 years ago, around the end of apartheid, the most that youngsters would do was smoke marijuana, which made them sleepy and relaxed. But from 1994 onwards, harder drugs began to arrive in the township and that is when the youths became more violent. They started smoking Mandrax, taking ecstasy, methamphetamines and other hard drugs and this caused them to become violent and commit crimes to support their drug habits. Some of the parents present approved of their children smoking dagga as long as they did not do harder drugs because marijuana stopped them from becoming violent.
The drugs problem was blamed on foreigners who flocked to Grahamstown once apartheid ended in 1994. Many of the focus group participants exhibited mild xenophobia against foreigners.
Most of the residents said they knew exactly who the criminals were but could not act out of fear of retaliation.
Apart from crime and violence, the other key issue identified by the focus group was a lack of service delivery. They pointed out the lack of proper housing, the open sewers, rubbish lying around and other service delivery problems were second only to the threat of crime and violence.
The most common types of crime in Kings Flats were robbery, theft, drug abuse and dealing and assault. Other serious crimes were murder and rape. All the participants we spoke to were in fear of crime and were reluctant to go out by themselves at night. They were also paranoid of other people stealing things from them and would watch visitors to their houses very carefully.
The focus group participants believed the best way to improve their neighbourhood was to have more police who did not just ride up and down wasting petrol, and to be able to beat their children. They were very passionate about the youth being undisciplined and not showing enough respect to their elders and thought that this was the leading cause of crime amongst the youth, together with drug abuse.
Vick stofile - 0730612776
Esther dwane N/A
Steven matsvimbo - 0781661714
Moses diniso - 0838283340