The logo for this project “Walk in my Shoes”, is a simple footprint, but if you look carefully you will see that it is the image of Jesus who bows down to carry children on his back

WALK IN MY SHOES

What this Area is Like

As a priest, I have experienced many strange, grim and demanding situations in my ministry, but, as the old idiom says, this one “takes the biscuit”! Hanover Park and is one of the most dangerous places I have ever been. It is the only time that I received threats for taking a picture by a local (I wanted to take pictures of the school for this project). In this community gangsters seem to stand stronger than the police.

There are, in fact, two suburbs, only five minutes from each other, that are suffering from the same malaise, Hanover Park and Manenberg. These suburbs are roughly twenty minutes by car outside the Cape Town. They are notorious havens for gangsters, the biggest gang being “The Americans”. Their gang signs are to be seen anywhere in Cape Town, whether it’s a primary school, a street corner or a night club – the Americans do not hide. But, there are other gangs too, e.g. “The Laughing Boys” and “The Mongrels”. Gangsterism is not a new problem in Hanover Park – it is deeply rooted in the sociological DNA of God’s people living there!

With gangsters on the streets throughout the day, every day of the year, the reality here is ominous. However, there is another aspect to this reality that makes it even more malevolent. On every street corner and on every road you find children without any supervision. This means that these children are easy targets. The “Americans” know this and they tend to use children for their dirty work. A child, who has committed murder, will receive a lower jail sentence! And so, these children are given guns! With obvious fear in her eyes, one local grandmother (who was caring for three young children) said to me, “What are you doing here!! You need to watch out for the ‘bang-bang’!

It is shocking to see how the hands that are holding the guns behind the bullets and bloodshed in Hanover Park are not tattooed, weathered or even fully developed. They belong to children, some not even teenagers yet. Those hands should be holding pens while doing homework. Instead, they are clutching firearms and running through the streets, killing.

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