July 09, 2021

South Africa: How Volunteers Keep Their Community Safe

To keep crime off the streets of a township in South Africa, a group of young men have taken it upon themselves to watch over their community.

At 4AM from Monday to Saturday morning, the group – made up of 10 volunteers – wake up to patrol the streets of Stellenbosch’s nearby Kayamandi township. Their duties include visiting taxi ranks and shuttle points, and accompanying residents on their way to work or school.

According to the group, robberies have been on the decrease ever since they were established, while members of the community also ask them to escort them through dark streets.

One such member is Avela Siphumze, a Grade 12 learner who often returned home late from the library or study group sessions. With the volunteers ready to accompany her, she says she feels safer on her trips.

Siphumze also praised the volunteers’ efforts at keeping criminals at bay, commenting: “These tsotsis are now realising that it won’t be as easy as before [to commit crime].”

The group are calling on residents to join as volunteers; they are also asking for R50 donations so that they can buy equipment such as reflective jackets, whistles, torches and walkie-talkies.

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