Cape Town’s VPUU project in Kahyelitsha has deservedly attracted a lot of attention lately

THE DIRT

South Africa’s apartheid regime deliberately designed cities to divide communities, creating a legacy of poverty, racial fragmentation, and criminal behaviour. Cape Town is no different from other South African cities, and the impacts of apartheid’s legacy are apparent in Khayelitsha, a Cape Town settlement where only 52 percent of residents are “economically active.” Furthermore, the town must deal with a challenging environmental and planning legacy: In locating the settlement on the Cape Flats sand dunes, barely above the water table and in a winter wetland, the apartheid regime shaped a community around water detention ponds. For most of the year they laid vacant and were well-suited to criminal behaviour.

Studies have found a relationship between crime and unemployment. High levels of unemployment result in high levels of crime. It therefore follows that with almost half the community employed, crime will be high.

The Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading Program (VPUU), a partnership between the City of…

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