Des­per­ate to es­cape poverty

CityPress - - News - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

‘In this place, when you wake up in the morn­ing, you don’t know whether it is your last day or not,” says Christofer Cloete (21), who lives in the heart of the gang­ster-in­fested sub­urb of Gel­van­dale in Port El­iz­a­beth.

Cloete is one of many young peo­ple des­per­ate for work in the Nelson Man­dela Bay Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, which has one of the high­est un­em­ploy­ment rates in the coun­try.

Un­em­ploy­ment fig­ures have risen to a record high, ac­cord­ing to Stats SA’s Quar­terly Labour Force Sur­vey, which was re­leased this week.

The DA’s may­oral can­di­date for Port El­iz­a­beth, Athol Trol­lip, says one in three peo­ple in the metro are un­able to find work and un­em­ploy­ment is “in­creas­ing to crisis lev­els”.

Cloete says gang­ster­ism will con­tinue to plague the north­ern ar­eas of Port El­iz­a­beth for as long as youth are un­em­ployed and kept on the pe­riph­ery of busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Young peo­ple in his com­mu­nity are be­ing forced into gang­ster­ism be­cause of their so­cioe­co­nomic con­di­tions – they are des­per­ate, an­gry and dis­il­lu­sioned with a sys­tem they be­lieve has for­got­ten about them.

Young­sters roam aim­lessly in the streets with poverty, sad­ness and anger writ­ten on their faces. The streets are busy as chil­dren play cricket and soc­cer to kill time.

Cloete says he used to be a gang­ster, but left that life when he was ar­rested for sell­ing drugs – mostly dagga – to other gang mem­bers. He now rents a back room in Stan­ford Road for his spaza shop.

He dropped out of school in Grade 7 be­cause he did not want to be a bur­den on his poor and un­em­ployed par­ents.

Cloete has since reg­is­tered a con­struc­tion com­pany in the hope of get­ting small con­struc­tion jobs, but says even that is prov­ing dif­fi­cult – small con­struc­tion jobs in the town­ship are be­ing given to po­lit­i­cally con­nected peo­ple.

He crit­i­cises the metro for the lack of ser­vice de­liv­ery in his area, and says he would love to meet Mayor Danny Jor­daan and tell him in per­son how he and his peo­ple are suf­fer­ing de­spite gov­ern­ment’s prom­ises.

Jor­daan, speak­ing on Wed­nes­day dur­ing the launch of an in­no­va­tive busi­ness in­cu­ba­tion cen­tre by telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions provider Telkom in Port El­iz­a­beth called Fu­tureMak­ers, said the metro had an un­em­ploy­ment rate of 36%.

Jor­daan wel­comed the launch of the Fu­tureMak­ers pro­gramme, which is aimed at help­ing en­trepreneurs es­tab­lish and grow their busi­nesses and cre­ate jobs.

He said the city was im­ple­ment­ing the five-year In­te­grated De­vel­op­ment Plan. The coun­cil plans to cre­ate jobs by tap­ping into the ocean econ­omy. About 130 000 ships travel past the Nelson Man­dela Bay coast­line per year, but they don’t stop to re­fuel at the metro.

Jor­daan said: “We must turn and look to the ocean again. There is a huge po­ten­tial and many pos­si­bil­i­ties.”

He said the metro signed and es­tab­lished an agree­ment with the Nelson Man­dela Met­ro­pol­i­tan Uni­ver­sity to un­lock bil­lions of rands re­lated to the ocean econ­omy.

The metro has also en­cour­aged lux­ury cruise lin­ers to stop at the metro, which has two ports, the Port of Port El­iz­a­beth and the Port of Ngqura.

He said he ap­pre­ci­ated the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try, which had made a huge con­tri­bu­tion to the city’s econ­omy and con­tin­ued to do so, but it could not ab­sorb ev­ery­body who was look­ing for a job.

The city was de­vel­op­ing new tourism prod­ucts and was also look­ing at op­tions in agri­cul­ture.

“This is the new fu­ture that we have cap­tured in our plan for the next five years,” he said.

On Tues­day, Jor­daan vis­ited He­len­vale, which is just next to Gel­van­dale. Cloete could not go to the event be­cause it took place on turf be­long­ing to op­po­si­tion gang mem­bers.

Jor­daan ac­knowl­edged that this was a poor com­mu­nity and said peo­ple needed help to learn to gen­er­ate in­come through sup­port­ing small, medium and mi­cro en­ter­prises, which would in turn cre­ate jobs.

Dorothy Stu­ur­man, who is a ward com­mit­tee mem­ber for the ANC in Gel­van­dale, says many young­sters with ma­tric and ter­tiary qual­i­fi­ca­tions are un­em­ployed.

Stu­ur­man has three chil­dren and earns R1 000 a month for her ward com­mit­tee work. She says it is hard to make ends meet, which leads to many young­sters join­ing gangs.

“Peo­ple here, they don’t want gang­ster­ism, but they see it as their way of es­cap­ing poverty,” she says.

PHOTO: LUBABALO NGCUKANA

OUT OF OP­TIONS Christofer Cloete (21) plays cricket with lo­cal chil­dren on a street in gang-rid­den Gel­van­dale, Port El­iz­a­beth. In an at­tempt to make ends meet, he opened a small spaza shop when he de­cided to stop be­ing a gang­ster. In­set: Mayor Danny Jor­daan

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