Gangs down weapons as thousands gather to break fast in Manenberg
More than 2,000 people came together to break their fast in the heart of Cape Town’s ganglands on Sunday night, as Muslims and multi-faith congregations closed a notorious street in Manenberg to make way for long tables and a vast spread of donated food.
Boeka innie Laan was enjoyed by community members for the second year in a row.
Die Laan is a notorious stretch of road in Manenberg that divides several gang territories and is infamous for high crime rates, shootings and illicit gang activity.
Organiser Salieg Isaacs said there was a "joyous atmosphere" as gangs downed their weapons out of respect for Eid, the religious holiday celebrated by Muslims that marks the end of Ramadan.
"Many of the gangsters were present, but they stand away from the tables and don't disrupt proceedings in any way out of respect for the community. Last night they were all very calm," he said.
Ward councillor Aslam Cassiem said events such as this were welcome interruptions to the normal daily activity.
"This event integrates the community. Not only Muslims but members of all faiths are welcomed and the illicit gang business that they are so used to in that area comes to a halt," said Cassiem.
"The area is burdened with many problems, like gangsterism and extreme poverty. We have many issues here, but this was a happy occasion where even those who are causing these problems were respectful and able to positively contribute.
"People with various problems are also able to discuss issues with community leaders and police in a more relaxed environment," he added.
The event was organised by various stakeholders, including Brothers For Life, the Manenberg Centre of Islamic Information and Education, the city of Cape Town and the police.
An abundant spread of food and drink was made available through donations from the community and from further afield.
Cassiem hopes that these kinds of events will begin to erode the toxic criminality that is so present in the community.
"These evenings are most welcome. We want to continue this through Thursday night meetings, called Thikr, which operate in much the same way, only they are for the Muslim contingent of the community," he said.
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