Port Elizabeth: In an effort to defeat the involvement of young teenagers and youth in gang related activities in the Northern areas of Port Elizabeth, the Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Liziwe Ntshinga, the Community Policing Forums and the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality have come together and staged a ‘Festival of Hope’ music extravaganza on the Day of Reconciliation.

The event was held at the Finns Street sports grounds in Bethelsdorp whereby various local artists showcased their musical talents. The objective of this initiative is to change the mind-set of the youth while instilling hope for the future.

The activities started with a motorcade procession from Cleary Park Shopping Centre through the streets of Bethelsdorp and ending at the sports field. Bikers led the huge procession with Lt Gen Ntshinga riding with one of them.

The Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Metro, Cllr M Bobani welcomed everyone to the Festival of Hope. Cllr Bobani explained that the purpose for today is to encourage the youth that crime and gangsterism must stop now. ‘We are here with you – never lose hope. We can assure you that together we can stop crime here and this starts with you, the youth. We are creating hope for you because tomorrow belongs to you to follow your dreams,’ added Cllr Bobani.

Messages of support and encouragement was also echoed by the President of the Eastern Province Cricket Club, Mr May; the Mount Road Cluster Commander, Maj Gen Patekile; Chief of Police, Ms Faro; Member of the Provincial Legislature, Mr Martin and the Acting Cluster Board CPF Chairperson, Mr Hendricks.

The Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Ntshinga in her keynote address thanked the community in the Northern areas for such a heart-warming welcome. ‘I am grateful and impressed with what I saw today- the beautiful and well organized motorcade, procession and music. There is no escape from facing the reality that our people are either dying or maimed for life because of the ongoing gang violence that has taken a toll in this place. Let me make it categorically clear that we are not here today to cry and complain, instead we are here to bring a message of hope. The Festival of Hope must be about demolishing the barriers our youth is facing and the restoration of hope to them. This is a very good initiative which both young and old must take advantage of, as a solid foundation towards making peace and forgiveness among yourselves, ‘added Lt Gen Ntshinga.

Celebrity actress ‘Bonita’ from the soapie 7de Laan also surprised the audience of about 1000 people with her presence.

Source: South African Police Service