Residents of Gugulethu demand safety in our community

Gender-based violence (‘GBV’) is a persistent threat across South Africa, with extremely high rates across the country. It has been estimated at costing the country between R28.4 – R42.4 billion per year, or between 0.9% and 1.3% of our GDP annually. Further, the NSP on HIV, TB and STIs (2017-2022) states that GBV is a significant driver of HIV acquisition among women, including community attitudes and lack of safety in permitting this.

The Western Cape itself has been identified as one of the most unsafe provinces in South Africa. A third of the country’s murders have been reported at WC police stations. During the 2016/2017 year, murder increased by 2.7%. Sexual assault increased by 6% and robbery with aggravating circumstances increased by 1.3%.1 Within the Western Cape, Gugulethu has been identified as one of the worst ten precincts. 238 sexual offences, 173 rapes, 618 assaults with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and 720 robberies with aggravating circumstances were reported in 2017 alone.2

The Gugulethu community is plagued by a number of issues that are contributing to the high rates of GBV and lack of community safety. These issues include the following: high rates of substance abuse and gangsterism, lack of water and proper sanitation, and lack of safety of health care workers in clinics who are being robbed in their clinics and cannot provide proper healthcare because of this. In addition, the infrastructure that is meant to protect and make the communities’ lives easier are part of the contributing factors, including high rates of rape and gangsterism in schools, robbery being perpetrated by taxi drivers and neighbourhood watch groups who are in fact perpetrating crimes and orchestrating attacks on the street.

To effectively solve the crisis of lack of safety in Gugulethu, the stakeholders this memorandum is directed to, must listen and address the demands of the Gugulethu community immediately and resolutely. The Gugulethu community asks that the stakeholders develop and engage in partnerships with local community-based organisations and non-government organisations working on GBV-related issues and the community itself to meet the demands set out below.

The Gugulethu community demands the following:

  1. The above-mentioned stakeholders to whom this letter is addressed to make public statements recognising the crisis in Gugulethu and affirming their commitment to ensuring improved safety and decreased rates of GBV in Gugulethu and the Western Cape as a whole;
  2. The above-mentioned stakeholders to make a firm commitment to addressing the issues faced by the Gugulethu community by, among other things, committing financial resources to, or ensuring that the proper departments commit financial resources to the following:
    1. Developing and implementing a lighting master plan for the Cape Town City Council to improve street lighting, particularly in townships and in areas used by pedestrians as short cuts;
    2. Ensuring safe public transport by:
      1. Supporting awareness campaigns with taxi owners;
      2. Support ing aware ness campaigns with taxi owners and drivers (e.g. Sonke’s Safe Ride campaign);
      3. Develop ing safety campaigns for trains and buses; and
      4. Improving bus shelters’ location and safety for ‘after hours’ commuters, including better lighting at bus stops, train stations etc;
    3. Installing CCTV cameras, particularly in identified high risk/danger areas;
    4. Increasing targeted visible police patrols and additional patrols at night by security guards or police reservists;
    5. Involving street hawkers in crime watchdog projects through incentivised programmes;
    6. Improving sanitation conditions in townships, by providing:
      1. additional ablution blocks and improve regular maintenance thereof; and
      2. better lighting and CCTV cameras around sanitation facilities;
    7. Committing council resources to strengthen and en sure sustainability of existing places of safety and establish some in places they don’t exist;
    8. Committing resources to make services accessible for all people living with disabilities e.g. wheelchair friendly police vehicles for disabled offenders & perpetrators;
  3. Implementing awareness-raising campaigns around public safety by increasing public awareness campaigns and information sharing e.g. community dialogues; at clinics linking GBV and HIV; where to access services, shelters;
  4. The Western Cape Department of Community Safety along with the Western Cape Police Ombudsman must ensure accountability by means of oversight.
  5. The irrational and discriminatory system of resources allocation applied by SAPS needs to be revised. More allocation must be provided for police stations in informal settlements, including Gugulethu and Nyanga.
  6. For national government to adopt and implement a multi-sectoral, fully-costed, inter-sectoral National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence.
  7. The stakeholders and all implicated departments attend a public meeting organised by the signatories to this memorandum to provide the following feedback on these demands by Tuesday 30th January 2018, as follows:
    1. Evidence of plans we have asked for; and
    2. Serious commitment, including financial and human resources, to solving these issues.

The memorandum was endorsed by the following organisations:

  • Treatment Action Campaign, Western Cape
  • Movement for Change and Social Justice
  • Mosaic
  • Emthonjeni
  • Gugulethu Disability Development Forum
  • Grassroot Soccer
  • Activist Education and Development Centre
  • Peace Ambassadors
  • Reeva Steenkamp Foundation

Received by Mr Don Sauls
Acting Director: Safety Promotions and Partnerships
Department of Community Safety – Western Cape

Fredalene Booysen
Community Education & Mobilisation Manager
Sonke Gender Justice, Western Cape

We will be making contact with your offices for a meeting on 26 January 2018 to discuss progress made.



The signed memorandum can be downloaded here.