The recent story about a boy and his grandmother petrified of Pick ‘n Pay staff in Mitchells Plain for crushing a cholate and then refusing to pay, is food for thought.

A friend who until recently, owned and operated a shop across the road from my office off Adderley Street decided to sell his business. After spending mornings with him over many years arguing politics and religion before buying the Cape Argus and going to office at 7:45am I understood why he sold.

Every week he had physical running battles with criminals, vagrants, addicts and riff-raff that tried and often stole from the shop. Since the shop was managed by members of his family, the father and wife opened at 5am and toiled until 12:30pm. Their son and his wife worked from 12:30pm until 7pm, daily.

It was a tough life as there are no holidays, sick leave or tea breaks as per labor law as their income was totally reliant on their efforts. After years the battles to prevent theft, manage inept suppliers who delivered bread at 8am instead of 7am when the rush ensued, it became too much. The shop dictated every facet of the family time and the sacrifices were no longer worth the rewards.

While some pitied the granny and boy, perhaps they must consider the nature of our society where petty crime is measured normal. Vandals destroy schools, parks and facilities without any respect.

Recently Sub-Council 12 on which I serve in Mitchel’s Plain did site visits on several municipal properties and sports facilities that have been damaged beyond repair and require entire rebuild.

The City of Cape Town, provincial and national government spend billions managing the impact of vandalism. Our society cannot progress as we spend R1 out of every R 3 repairing vandalism.

How did this vandalism begin and why? It begins with a boy crushing a cholate in a shop assuming that this and all activities like that are normal. While the staff at Pick ‘n Pay may have outdone their sanction, the boy must be taught that his activities will not be ignored. In society those who create minor harms in youth are allowed to become bigger problems and then we all wonder how it ensued.

In the words of the wise, harmony and justice has to be created, and then maintained. It is the creation of faith, strength, energy, and will, imagination, and the triumph of principle. It will never be achieved by misguided sympathy, passivity and being silent and hoping the problem will go away.

Cllr Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress