A tent erected in front of the office of Eastern Cape premier Phumulo Masualle has drawn the attention of many motorists since last Saturday.
Planted around the tent are 75 white crosses and three black crosses.
During an investigation, it was found that it was part of a sleep-in by ANC MPL Christian Martin who was lying down in a wooden coffin with Khoisan chiefs Crawford Fraser and Cora Hennings, to highlight the gang violence and killing of innocent people in Port Elizabeth.
Fraser said they had had enough of the senseless killings which continue to sweep through their communities.
“We have a crisis, we are living in absolute fear, literally kept prisoners inside our own homes and the only time when someone is at peace is when he is lying in a coffin,” said Fraser.
Martin said: “The 78 crosses represent children killed in gang violence in the last seven months during this financial year and the coffin symbolises the northern areas.”
Early on Monday morning the trio, accompanied by Schornville-based Khoisan chief Melvin Smith, walked the 5km distance from Bhisho to Calata House carrying the coffin.
Upon arrival, a meeting followed and a memorandum was handed to ANC provincial spokesperson Gift Ngqondi and office manager Mongezi Dyala in the presence of Breidbach community leaders Stacey Gosling and Deon Alexander, as well as and other community members.
“On this day two weeks ago, residents of the Booysen park area had a prayer service for the life of Keenan Louw and for his parents as they faced a morally difficult decision [whether or not to turn off his life support], while in the neighbouring area of Jacksonville, family and friends are still battling to come to grips with the killing of their loved ones,” Martin said.
“The crime statistics in the Nnorthern areas are a cold comfort to residents, who live in fear of being shot and killed for either a cellphone or plasma television set. This memorandum serves as a plight for the premier’s intervention.”
Their demands include:
- An urgent meeting with Minister of Police police minister Bheki Cele;
- Immediate deployment of the anti-gang and violence unit;
- The adoption of a multi-facet multifaceted inter-governmental approach which includes all stakeholders;
- Progressive rehabilitation programmes be develop for inmates; in custody;
- A police station to be built immediately in the Booysen Park area;
- Declaration of a state of emergency in the Nelson Mandela Bay region;
- The SA Cape Corps to be deployed at schools in the northern areas;
- Rehab centres to be assisted in terms of resources and facilities;
- Visible foot-patrol policing.
Ngqondi promised to bring the content of the memorandum to the attention of the premier.
On Tuesday morning, Martin said the premier confirmed they will meet with the MEC of safety and security.
“We welcome this decision and will meet with them to discuss the urgent meeting requested with minister Cele.”