'Moral decay fuels gangsterism'

A Stellenbosch researcher blames moral decay for the surge in CT gang violence.

Junaid McKenzie was laid to rest on 28 June 2012 after she was shot dead in gang crossfire. Picture: Nathan Adams/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A Stellenbosch researcher blames moral decay for the surge in gang violence in the city.

Areas like Hanover Park, Elsies River, Lavender Hill and more recently Grassy Park have been plagued by gang attacks in recent months.

But researcher, Derica Lambrechts, warned the epidemic can and will affect the rest of the city too.

Lambrechts said a breakdown in moral fibre is partly to be blamed for the surge in gang violence, as children were getting involved in gangs from an increasingly young age.

She believes children mimic what they see at home and the streets, and that is how the vicious cycle starts.

Lambrechts agrees that gangsterism is more prevalent in certain areas, but said it was also linked to other problems like drug dealing and prostitution, which are rife throughout the city.

"I think it happens specifically in places like Manenberg, but it is a phenomenon that has a potential to overtake an entire city.

Meanwhile the lives of many young children are being lost because of gang violence.

Most recently, eight-year-old Junaid McKenzie was killed in Steenberg while playing soccer at a nearby park.

Since February, seven children have been killed in gang crossfires.

At the same time, many parents have been forced to send their children away during the school holidays as they feared for their safety.