Khorixas-More than 100 residents of Khorixas informal settlement of Donkerhoek have expressed concern about liquor outlets that sell alcohol to underage children, as well cannabis dealers who target children.
Children as young as nine and ten are said to be using alcohol and cannabis, with some even smoking it publicly in streets.
“Donkerhoek people want a police station. It is unsafe due to youngsters who don’t attend school and who stay in the streets to beat up and rob other people,” said a Donkerhoek resident, who like others refused to reveal his name for fear of reprisals.
The resident, who owns a liquor outlet, said shebeen owners were informed not sell alcohol to underage children, as this will simply destroy their future. “Youngsters must be in school where they must learn, so others must not ruin their future. Later these children can end up in jail or die from alcohol abuse,” he said.
Another resident, a member of the local residents committee, who also requested anonymity, said they want change in the informal settlement and the frequenting of liquor outlets by young mothers with children has also been on the increase.
“What happens if the people start a fight while you are with a baby?” an elderly man asked, and added he that knows of houses where children buy dagga, but was too scared to report it to the police as the drug dealers are said to be ruthless with police informers.
“We’re too scared to report the drug dealers to the police, although we know their houses,” he said.
Gotliet Namaseb, 42, also a resident of Donkerhoek said, he has approached the local police to start a neighbourhood watch in the informal settlement and to advise the police.
“We need help from the police. At least they must give a card and T-shirt to those who want to join such a group, so at least we can identify ourselves when in the community to do the job,” Namaseb told New Era. He feels the local authority or central government can introduce food-for-work programmes, as hunger can lead youth to engage in criminal activities. He also said those with Grade 10 and 12 can be sent for vocational training to learn something rather than staying at home or on the streets.
Namaseb said the residents of informal settlement can be employed by the local council to clean up the town and the graveyard, as part of food-for-work programme. Warrant Officer Paul Gaoaseb, the operational commander of Khorixas police, remarked that some adults were being used by youngsters to buy alcohol for them at liquor outlets. Gaoaseb warned bar owners to stop this practice.
He said a suggestion box can be set up for residents to make use of and that police have got a plot from the Khorixas Town Council, but do not yet know when the construction of a satelite police station in Donkerhoek would start, given the budget cuts implemented last year.
Liquor outlet owners were told to close their business places on time so that the police on patrol can search those who roam the streets late at night.