The complexity of challenges facing various communities, especially in urban centres today, requires all concerned community members and stakeholders to seek solutions through constructive engagement. Research and dialogue with active community stakeholders has identified the need to build social cohesion with the aim of achieving shared community goals. Amongst other areas in the City of Cape Town, Khayelitsha Site C was identified as one of the communities facing various challenges including those of poverty, unemployment and violent crime.
In response to these challenges, on Thursday, 27 July 2017, the Khayelitsha Site C Peacebuilding Team called a community meeting. This followed the team’s research through a door-to-door questionnaire, which asked residents to identify the major social challenges as well as potential solutions in Site C. The meeting was attended by various stakeholders such as members of the community and neighbourhood watches. Attendees also included representatives of the South African Police Service (SAPS); the Department of Home Affairs; Africa Unite; the University of Cape Town’s Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI); Somali Association of South Africa (SASA); Scalabrini; the Agency for Refugee Education, Skills Training and Advocacy (ARESTA); Cape Town Refugee Centre (CTRC); the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); Activate Leadership; Symphonia for South Africa; and Sibanye Community Initiative.
The Peacebuilding Team in Khayelitsha Site C aims to mitigate violence and resolve conflict. The facilitated dialogue on the 27th of July enabled community members to identify and discuss challenges they face and help communities work out solutions for themselves. Community members of Site C pointed out many socio-economic challenges such as poverty, criminal activities, unemployment, housing problems and poor economic conditions. Substance abuse, among youth; and unemployment, in general; are the two factors viewed to be the major challenge, with residents blaming these factors for the high crime levels in the area. Residents highlighted the need to create economic opportunities to enable job creation and more visible policing to mitigate crime in the area. Neighbourhood watches mentioned that it is possible to fight crime if they are afforded all the resources they require to service the area and if they work hand in hand with the police. While it is difficult to measure the impact of these dialogues it is safe to say the future looks bright.