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STREETSCAPES Progress December 2016–June 2017

Streetscapes is a ‘strength-based’ model, meaning a mind shift from seeing people as ‘problems’ into assets. What we want to do is to go beyond charity and training. We wish to empower people with financial means, access to information and resources to help themselves.

This basic but revolutionary concept can be broken down to different small indicators and achievements:

  1. Ability to maximize human potential:
    • Sales and donations towards the concept have enabled beneficiaries earn more than R150 000 in six months.
    • Attendance rate remains high – 85% – clearly showing that even most marginalised individuals are highly motivated to work
    • The number of beneficiaries grown from 10 to 31. We’ve been able to increase the number of social enterprises we run and partners who support beneficiaries in the programme.

  2. Beneficiaries’ ability to contribute positively in society:
    • From being seen as a ‘scourge’, all the beneficiaries contribute positively in society by
    o providing high quality nutritious organic vegetables to residents and restaurants without transport pollution.
    o contributing towards a safer and cleaner city (through organic gardens, managing a public toilet open at night and providing street cleaning services)
    • Demand from the gardens currently exceeds supply. A third garden is being opened in 2017 (Stroompie), and a fourth in 2018 (Tennant Street)

  3. Beneficiaries’ ability to solve their own problems:
    • Between January and June 2017 homelessness in the group has dropped from 95% to 43%.
    • Three year average 50% of moving off the street when employed for 6 months in the project

  4. Reducing harm to society:
    • From being repeat offenders, only three arrests took place during first six months.
    • All cases have been minor and have resulted in the offender being let out on bail.

  5. Reduction of harm to beneficiaries:

Over the past year the following areas have improved:
– More awareness of their own development
– Improved attention and interaction
– Communication with other colleagues improved
– The way of communicated to colleague in the team improve.
– Improved self-discipline
– Improved self–confidence and self–esteem.
– Excellent teamwork although some small fights still are evident
– Expression of emotions improved with both female and male clients

For more information and how you can support the project, email Jesse on jess@khulisa.org.za


On Monday evening, more than 300 residents of Oranjezicht, Gardens, Vredehoek and Devil’s Peak packed into the hall at Good Hope Junior School to listen to a presentation by Alderman J-P Smith on the subject of homelessness in the City Bowl. The meeting was opened by Councillor Brandon Golding (Ward 77), and Councillor Dave Bryant (Ward 115) was also in attendance.

J-P started his presentation with an overview of what the legal position is and what the City has tried within that framework. He made it quite clear that Law Enforcement alone will not solve this problem. J-P also emphasised that there are no quick fixes!

Loitering is not a crime – the Constitution allows freedom of movement of all citizens and as a result a person can not just be removed by anybody. By-law offences are not arrestable offences, and Law Enforcement officials can only issue fines. However, without a proper address, if a fine is not paid, a warrant of arrest will not be signed off by a magistrate. It is also impossible for law enforcement officers to witness all by-law offences and the public need to make a statement before a fine can be issued.

Law Enforcement and the Social Reintegration Teams have on-going operations on a weekly basis to take down structures built by homeless people. The homeless are offered a basket of social services in an attempt to start the process of reintegrating people but in most cases this help is refused. The City officials are not able to attend to every hotspot each time but do rotate around to all of them. Legislation prevents them from removing the person or their personal belongings, and there is little they can do to prevent a person from rebuilding a structure. In most cases the homeless are back within an hour and rebuild their structures to the point that it appears that the structures were not removed in the first place. The City has a “ride along” policy which means that any member of the community can join them for these operations (after signing an indemnity waiver) to see first hand that these structures are removed and what exceptionally difficult work this is for the City’s teams.

People living on the streets are regularly profiled and fingerprinted and those with outstanding warrants of arrest or in breach of parole conditions are arrested and dealt with by SAPS.

It was also made clear that the policing of criminal offences can only be done by SAPS who have vastly superior resource numbers and budget. More needs to be done by the Justice system and Correctional Services to enable people go into diversion programmes and have better options when released on parole so they do not end up back on the streets. The city is now investing in diversion programmes as the request to National Government to fulfull this part of their mandate is not working. There is also very little assisance from Immigration in dealing with the many illegal immigrants who are now sleeping on our streets; this needs vastly better management which would include a refuge assessment centre.

While not abandoning Law Enforcement routines, the City has been exploring other possible solutions and is investing more heavily in social development options which have shown a far greater success rate.
The most recent survey of homelessness shows that there are some 7500 homeless people across the Greater Cape Town municipal area, of which some 700 live in the CBD. Key areas of concern in the City Bowl are De Waal Park (above and below Camp Street), Van Riebeeck Park, The Kraal and Stroompie; as well as the Castle, Culembourg and the Grand Parade.

The homeless population consists of several components: local residents who have lost their homes or cannot live with their families due to lack of employment, illness or substance abuse; gangterism forces people out of their own environment; the search for economic opportunity draws both South Africans and foreign nationals to Cape Town; and there are regular releases from our prisons.
There are currently some 2500 beds available at shelters run by NGOs. Due to budget constraints, the NGOs working in this arena are not able to open more shelters, but the City is looking at ways of helping them to expand existing shelters to increase bed capacity. The Western Cape is the only province that allocates budget to NGOs in this sphere.

Research has shown that homeless people are very resistant to going into shelters due to the way they are run. Seventy-five percent of people approached are not interested in the assistance being offered. Amongst the reasons for this are that family units do not want to split up into separate quarters; many people do not want or are unable to give up the use of alcohol or drugs to stay in a shelter, and the shelters will not allow pets.

The City is busy developing a Safe Spaces concept and one of the pilot sites will be at Culembourg on the Foreshore. This will have ablution facilities, lockers, a food kitchen, medical and counselling services, access to EPWP work and other social assistance. The idea is that people can use the facilities and be safe overnight but they must vacate the property during the day. There will be a flexible attitude towards alcohol and couples will be able to stay together. Eighty-five percent of those interviewed said that they would consider using the space, but it is not a foregone conclusion that it will work. The pilot project will take in approximately 250 people.

The other point made strongly is that communities have a big role to play: first, they give food, money and jobs to people on the street, which encourages the homeless to stay in the area. Secondly, it is important to ‘own’ our public spaces, and Brandon Golding cited Friends of Van Riebeeck Park as one of the relatively new projects which is working on upgrading facilities in the park to draw residents to spend time there. Research has shown that the more a community uses its public spaces, the fewer loiterers and squatters take over the space. The newly-formed Gardens Watch is also working hard at reclaiming Jutland Park with regular walk-abouts.

After the presentation, there were numerous questions and comments from the floor, with a number of the exchanges becoming quite heated! The issue of car guards around the Gardens Centre was also raised: car guarding itself is not an offence but begging aggressively is. However a law enforcement officer would need to witness this or the victim would need to make a statement to this effect to enable a fine to be issued. A suggestion was made that formalised paid parking should be put in place which would displace the guards.

Jesse Laitinen of Streetscapes, a project run by Khulisa Social Solutions, was asked to comment. Streetscapes grew out of the realisation that the same people were being recycled through the community court for the same by-law transgressions. With various sponsors in place, a food garden was established next to Fruit and Veg in Roeland Street, and has expanded to Tafelberg School. This project employs homeless people, paying them a stipend for hours worked. It also helps participants tap into any medical or social assistance they need. At least 50% of the people who have come through the project, have stayed employed, with drug and alcohol usage much reduced. Affordable accommodation remains a huge challenge and a hurdle to moving off the streets.

Support the Friends of the various parks in your area – use your public spaces!
Support NGOs working with the homeless: Streetscapes, The Haven, the Service Dining Rooms … there are many more to choose from. Give Responsibly!
Join CIBRA, join your neighbourhood watch, patrol, become active and help to change the situation.

Easter Egg Hunt

The DPV Easter Egg Hunt is a great annual event for all our little members! Save the date to be a part of the fun! If you are able to assist on the day, or with the planning of the event, please email contact@dpvwatch.co.za

DPV Patrols – how to join the patrol team

We have received queries from members asking how the patrol system works and how they can contribute, so we’ve explained the process below. Please help make our neighbourhood safer by joining the team!

STEP 1. Join a training evening - We explain what to look out for, how we operate, radio skills and how to interact with SAPS and our Armed Response companies

STEP 2. Join a member on patrol – gain some experience and confidence by patrolling with experienced members so you can see how easy it is

STEP 3. Join the roster – our on-line roster co-ordinates patrol times, you can commit (preferable) or contribute when you are able.

Email us at patrols@dpvwatch.co.za to confirm you’re joining the team

The breakdown

Step 1: Training

We’ll give you background on how we operate, how we support SAPS and what to look out for at a training evening. You can join Ren on a Wednesday evening or Birgit on a Thursday evening at 8.30 at the DPVwatch Office at Good Hope Seminary Junior school and we’ll also answer any questions you have.

It’s easier to take part and be in constant contact by purchasing a radio, if you don’t have a radio (or if its too expensive right now), you can provide you with a loan radio (for a month) and then take out the Patrol radio which we keep at Larmenier security when you go out on patrol. If you want to patrol without a radio its still important to learn the basics and how to stay in touch when you observe anything suspicious around the neighbourhood.

Step 2: Join a member on Patrol

There are some important radio guidelines we need you to learn before we add you to the network so its best to get some practise with an experienced member to build confidence, and we’d like it if you joined a member for a night or two before starting on your own or with a friend.

Step 3: Join the roster

We keep an accessible on-line roster for you to indicate what time slots you can commit to monthly in advance. It is most effective if you are able to commit at least a 2 hour session a month so we can build a co-ordinated roster. If you don’t want to commit to a time slot you can also patrol in your own flexi-time but by committing to a time other members will know you are out and have more of a feeling of ‘safety in numbers’.

Ideally we’ll try and pair you with a partner in another vehicle so you can be more effective, and an exco member will also be on duty to help out where necessary.

Patrols are usually in our cars, but many members take regular walks with radios around the area, around our parks and on the mountain instead. We also identify hotspots from time to time where you can walk with a partner in high-viz vests – every bit helps.

Once you’re on the roster we’ll connect you to a roster patrol group where you can share any observations that may be useful.

Here’s a summary of the three options

Own a radio

  • Join a training evening

  • Patrol with a member

  • Join the roster or be flexi

  • Join the patrol whatsapp group

  • Take part in daily radio checks and reports (7am and 7pm)

Borrow Patrol Radio

  • Join a training evening

  • Patrol with a member

  • Join the roster or be flexi

  • Join the patrol whatsapp group

  • Book the patrol radio to be collected from Larmenier village

Patrol without Radio

  • Join a training evening

  • Patrol with a member

  • Join the roster or be flexi

  • Join the patrol whatsapp group

  • You’ll need contact numbers when you’re observing

Let’s get involved and take back our streets from those who feel they can do as they please! #proud2beDPV