Children Criminalised by the Past and Further suppressed by the Present.
Exactly a week ago today on Christmas morning, we engaged with our children living on the streets. As we would with our own children, we got them washed and dressed for the day and took them for a breakfast at McDonald's Amalinda.
As we sat down to enjoy the meal and fellowship, I could not help but notice the correlation between these young lads and our ex-offender clients. Well I guess I should say our adult ex-offender clients because as I learned on this day, these youths already had an encounter with the law and are already fitting the criteria of our primary service of recidivism (reoffending) prevention.
This revelation did not come as a shock as living on the street requires some serious survival skills and unfortunately at times will lead to criminal activities. I'm in no way advocating a criminalised lifestyle but in the same breath, I need to make it known that I don't judge as these kids have no one to fight their corners and at times have to do what it takes to survive the day.
Criminalised by the past
I hear you asking, "but where are their parents, where is the government, why aren't they doing anything about these children?" A valid question which I believe deserves an answer and may or may not sit well with you the reader as we will be ruffling feathers. The simple straight forward answer to where are their parents, is; "Umama notata basweleke, my ma is gesterwe en my pa het n nuwe vrou wat ons nie wil he nie, I don't know where my father is and my mother is working on a farm and I live with ugogo, my pa is in die tronk, umama no tata banxila." I can go on and on but the truth is these answers are all influenced by the evils of the apartheid government.
Now this unfortunately will sound like Jacob Zuma, blaming apartheid for the present governments incompetence at the Eskom facilities but this goes way deeper. South Africa's pass laws under apartheid was a major component to promote the supposed superiority of whites to establish the minority white regime through the separation of South African citizens according to their race. This and other legislative laws under apartheid were very oppressive towards the black and coloured people. Without going into further detail, the unfair treatment of these race groups had a severe impact on their physical, mental and emotional well-being which unfortunately resulted in the dysfunctional society we have today. Before you respond to say "but they have a choice", I will agree with you but then I will also remind you that we all don't have the same resilience.
Suppressed by the presence
In 2014, Jacob Zuma said that the electricity crisis at Eskom had its roots in apartheid and as with this and other public sector issues, our socio economic development failures are also blamed on apartheid. In 1994, we saw an increase in crime which is associated with the high unemployment rate. In contrast to the ANC’s manifesto, we've seen a deteriorating public sector and an ailing government that keeps on bailing them out with billions, money that could have been spent on job creation and empowering the poor.
Yes the socio economic issue of the non-white public is inherited from the apartheid government but then the ANC has had two and a half decades to sever these ties but it seems to only have happened for the elite and connected. I won't be doing my first blog any justice if I go into detail of the evident incompetencies of the present government and how it’s failing the masses. I do however feel the need to mention a special power this government seem to possess and that is the power of "self delusion" where they would spend money on unnecessary things which will make them believe that they are doing good instead of actually doing good. An example would be the 2019 commemorative coins celebrating 25 years of constitutional democracy. Two of these depict the rights of children as well as their right to an education. This would have been wonderful and so meaningful to commemorate if the government had any real concerns and acted on ensuring that the children of South Africa actually enjoyed these rights.
The correlation, the problem and the solution
The sad reality we have here is that the narrative of our children are no different to that of our ex-offender clients, thus creating a continuous cycle of offenders from one generation to another. A problem that we are faced with, is that when we leave this unchallenged, it will result in a further increase in crime, gbv, absent fathers, homelessness, prison overcrowding and an increase in our taxes to compensate for the government's failures to address these issues.
Where both regimes failed our nation, is by the previous providing poor education orchestrated to keep the masses ignorant and the current, failing to act on their promises of providing a better education and jobs. The result thereof, is that we have parents and teachers who were and still not adequately educated, who are now struggling to educate our children resulting in a prolongation of poverty. The only solution we have here to changing this narrative, is to mobilise churches, NPO's and the corporate sector to work in unison to liberate our children form an impoverished mindset. Since our inception in 2019, we tried forming a partnership with government and realised that we will be going nowhere very slowly. We then formed partnerships with other organisations and the business sector and it became evident that our answer to a better South Africa does not rest with the government, but with the citizens of this country who yearns for change in our beautiful land.
For further information on how to get involved in changing the narrative, feel free to connect with us via https://www.cleanslate.co.za/get-involved or contact us via Whatsapp on
081 405 3253