Recreational activities scarce in Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap youth enjoying a day out, this was before the pandemic.

Erefaan Ramjam and his wife Sumaya volunteer in the Bo-Kaap community to facilitate youth programmes during the school holidays, but they say they receive no assistance from the City of Cape Town.

Mr Ramjam says he first became involved with the youth in 2011, when they interacted with children aged 8 to 20. These events were held at the Schotsche Kloof civic centre.

“There are too many problems with our youth, social problems, drug abuse, unemployment, non-attendance of school, gang affiliation, begging for money from tourists and harassing the tourists. One of the boys who attended our youth programme was shot dead last year,” he said.

After the Covid-19 lockdown, the Ramjams established the Nozomi Foundation to continue assisting the youth but were unable to host any youth programmes in December. Mr Ramjam expressed his displeasure to City officials in an email sent to them in December.

“Before 2020 we would run various programmes, we would take them hiking, there were organised outings with the City sport and recreation department. What we need from the City, is to be more empathic, to look at Bo-Kaap youth reaching out for help. Stop with all the red tape, I know we have to follow procedure, but it doesn’t take months just to get a space. Why reinvent the wheel when things were running smoothly and fine under the previous councillor,” he said.

A daycare centre operates from Monday to Friday in the Schotsche Kloof civic centre. A karate club uses the facility twice a week, and a clinic uses it once a week. According to the facility’s caretaker, there is a games room that is not in use.

Residents and community-based organisations, according to Ward 77 councillor Francine Higham, can book these facilities if they are available and meet the booking requirements.

“The City has also offered recreational programmes at the Schotsche Kloof civic centre for young people in the area such as after-school programmes and holiday programmes. The availability of these programmes is dependent on staff resourcing and unfortunately the City official who was running the programme in the Bo-Kaap resigned at short notice towards the end of last year. As a result the finalisation of the holiday programme over the summer period was advertised at short notice,” Ms Higham said.

Ms Higham adds that she will be meeting with the Recreation and Parks team to discuss a strategy for future recreational programmes in the Bo-Kaap to ensure they are adequately resourced, well-publicised, and meet the needs of the community.

The Bo-Kaap Civic and Ratepayers’ Association (BKCRA) hope that the City takes note of the social ills within the community.

“The Issue of taking children off the streets and providing a safe and nurturing space is an important one. What needs to be reviewed is how the City sees the objective of this programme in conjunction with the community. We say going forward bring everyone together working with children, work out a proper programme and provide a facility. A child in sport is a child out of court,” said Osman Shaboodien, the chairman of the BKCRA.

A games room at the Schotsche Kloof civic centre was once in use before lockdown, but not so much this year.