Khayelitsha, one of the biggest black residential areas in South Africa, is notorious for high crime rates, with the Western Cape government having established a commission of inquiry into policing in the area.
But the area is little different to other low-income black neighbourhoods in Cape Town, said Professor Jeremy Seekings (Department of Sociology). He was addressing a seminar on safety and violence in Khayelitsha, hosted by the Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI) in December.
SaVI was established in 2010 to facilitate debate, research and interventions on understanding and responding to violence as well as to promote safety. The seminar provided a platform for such debate, and drew speakers from community structures, community-based organisations working in Khayelitsha, and academia.
These included Dr Genine Josias of the Khayelitsha Thuthuzela Forensic Centre, Major Mgxaji of Khayelitsha Community Policing Forum Cluster, Axolile Notywala of the Social Justice Coalition, and Dr Leon Hotlzhausen, also of UCT's Department of Social Development.
Seekings noted that research had showed that the Western Cape is South Africa's most violent province, and that black townships - including Langa, Nyanga, Gugulethu and Philippi, as well as Khayelitsha - where poverty levels are the highest, are the most dangerous areas.
"In general, Khayelitsha is very typical of a poor black community in Cape Town. While the commission of inquiry is focused on Khayelitsha specifically, its findings will be relevant across much of Cape Town, and elsewhere in the country."
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