May name is Sibulelo and I live in Cape Town in a township called Mfuleni. What can I say? I don’t even know where to start. My community used to be a place of comfort, peace and joy. But now, as time goes by things changed from better to worse.

This makes me remember the incident that took place a year ago in this community of mine. There was a man who lived next door to my home with his wife and child. This man was abusive towards his wife. We used to hear the noise and the woman would cry for help every night, but people would pretend to not hear anything.

You know what was sad about this? This man was not only violent and abusive towards his wife, but he was also abusive to his child, his own flesh and blood. People in my community will see things like this happening and watch this painful act, but pretend that nothing has happened, simply because they are afraid to call for help, as they fear that man.

I started to notice that I am not safe; I am always in danger in my own community, not only that but also in my own home – I have a fear of being violated. We are not free in our own community. I remember one day me and my friend were going to the shop not far from home. There is a corner before the shop, where a group of boys like to sit, smoking dagga and making fun of people passing by. As we were about to reach the shop they made noises and called us names like abomabhebheza and bae. There was this one boy who had a naughty smile and was chewing bubble gum. This boy approached us and kissed me on the cheek.

As he did that I shouted back and said, “Uphambene noma udakiwe?”

He slapped me and people just watched and did not try to help. They just walked away as if nothing happened, as they were afraid to come forward, because of the violence that happens here.

I stay closer to the main road where there is a bus stop. Women who wait for their transport to go to work suffer at the hands of the criminals who rob them of their cellphones and handbags. Every day we hear people screaming, asking for help and nobody goes out to help, and instead we talk about the incidents later on in the day.

One day we woke up to find a gangster shot dead just next to my home. There are gunshots every night, drug dealers live right next door to my home and the sad part is that there is no one to help. No one wants to come forward and save the community. There are young children who are growing up. Who will save these innocent souls? Will they live in fear like us, fear of being violated by gangsters and drug abusers?

People are being killed in cold-blooded shootings – violence has poisoned our young people. Involving police and community street committee minimises the effect of this crime. Some community members volunteer to patrol the streets in the evenings. Yet, the fear of victimization by the perpetrators always prevails.

I have decided as a young person in my hood, to encourage others to report everything illegal that they see happening. By standing together as young people, police, street committees and volunteers we can beat this crime.