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An open letter to Helen Zille on her offensive tweet about the people of Nyanga

by: Teboho Makhetha - 9 December 2016

IMG_8636Dear Madam Premier,

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Teboho Makhetha, and I was born in Eastern Cape in a small town called Matatiele. I moved to Cape Town in 2011 for work purposes, and I’ve been living here since.

What triggered me to write to you is the tweet below sent from your account, in which you make reference to a robbery in the area.

You might think I’m the least qualified person to tell you how to run your province. But for the past four weeks, I’ve been working on finding out why Nyanga has been the murder capital in the country for five years running, and yet nothing is being done about that. I am part of Project Demo, a campaign which is meant to amplify young people’s voices and try help them effect change that needs to happen for them to thrive in their communities. We are working with Nelisa Ngqulana, who was born in Nyanga, and now has started a petition of getting a second police station built in Nyanga, which we think will help reduce crime in the area.

The robbery you make reference to in your tweet, is indeed an unfortunate incident because the wifi is meant to assist the community there. I’m however appalled by your suggestion that the community “must help prevent this if they want wifi.” The ignorance in this statement is worrying. Maybe Madam, I need to remind you that, in fact it’s your job to provide service delivery in Nyanga and anywhere else in the province where there’s crime.

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 It’s unfair to expect people to fight crime on their own

In fact fighting crime is part of your job. So speaking to people of Nyanga as if providing service delivery to them is doing them a favour is wrong. Must the community chase thugs with guns if they want service delivery? If yes, would you lead from the front? How about you assist, Madam Zille, and help Nyanga get a second police station?

Madam, the world votes your city the best city in the world. Statistics show that your townships are the worst, as out of ten townships with high murder rate, seven of those are in Western Cape. So, Madam, young people from Nyanga have many challenges, and suggesting they should fight crime is just plain unfair as it adds to their burden. Young people from Nyanga need to be empowered with skills to change their lives. Nyanga people don’t only need wifi, but job opportunities, another police station, street lights and cameras. Madam, to my shock, the police station in Nyanga doesn’t have unit dealing with sexual offenses, and such cases have to be transferred to Mitchells Plain. This shows that there’s a need for a second police station.

You are more than capable to help

If, Madam, you went to court to challenge the police minister for opposing you forming the Khayelitsha Commission, why can’t you go that far for the people of Nyanga? Every person I have spoken to says there is no land to build a second police station. Can you help in that regard?

Madam Premier, the people of Nyanga cannot find solutions to crime on their own, while facing so many challenges. Lead from the front and do something if you want to give people service delivery, not people doing something if they want service delivery.

Best regards,

Teboho Makhetha


Photography: Sabelo Mkhabela

Project Demo finds the voices of young people in South Africa, amplifies their stories and turns their cause for change into a reality. Tell them your issue. They’ll take it on and campaign with you.