Monday, September 28, 2009

Story Ideas

Friday 23rd September 2009

Today in our meeting we verbalised our project theme and aims for the oral presentation and what stories we would further persue in our groups. Some of the ideas were:

1) WEPD Group:
a) Lisa:- interview and perhaps do a feature on resistance of gang violence with students found during the civic mapping and focus group excercise
b) Guy:-
c) Meggan:-
come up with a new and funky poster board type of design to exhibit photo stories and information about crime in the area to maybe go up in schools and bus stops
Nontobeko, Voyokazi and ZW Tshona to persue prisons and rehabilitations of criminals in the youth sector and maybe even trail hi-tech and how they handle youth criminals and ask those caught why they do it etc
a) Dominique:- Keeping in tune with our group’s theme of ‘youth’, Andy (radio) and I (photo) are doing a story that examines the positive and negatives of the process that young offenders go through when they commit a crime.
We have conducted research not only through our focus group interviews, but through talking to security companies and members of the community alike. Research shows that young offenders are either arrested or simply dropped back off at home (as juvenile prison is too dangerous).
Those arrested are sometimes charged and even when sentenced are released shortly thereafter. Prison means three free meals as well as a new identity, a place where they belong. When released, they bring with them the new identity that they formed behind bars, back into their community.
Either which way, the necessary reform process is ignored and the problem of young offenders continues to grow. It is for this reason that we are producing our soundslide, as a plea to both community and authority to re-think the way in which young offenders are handled, as well as to question why a better reform method has not been put in place.
b) Cari:-
c) Andrew:- Possibly work with Lisa on gangster idea as well as with photographers and work with Dominique and Cari on another possible sound slide involving rehabilitation

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reviewing the Focus Group Excercise 2

Wednesday 23rd September 2009

We split into two main groups to conduct two separate focus groups with Extension 6 residents as we felt it would be useful for our project to conduct them separately. Here we blog about the results and other notes we made during the focus group and what we have discovered in reflection.

1) Focus Group 1 - 14:30

Even though the focus group was conducted in Xhosa it was very well translated by VK and with extra input from Non2.

Dominique and I (Lisa) helped mediate the group by asking questions in English and having the TV girls translate them.

It seemed to be a slight challenge for the TV and Photojourn students to manouver around the venue as well as getting the children to talk as they were a bit shy. I decided to re-interview the children separately as they seemed to know a lot about gang culture.

It was very sad to hear about the focus group participant's individual crime trauma's and I think that we as the people mediating the group all felt very connected to the participants by the time


Ntombomzi/Mary Waters School:15 years old #0783556430; Sinazu/Nombulelo School:17 years old #0765518206; Siphamandla/D.D.Siwisa School:13 years old # 0783769393; Sinethemba/Ntsika School:15 years old (no number); Mongameli/D.D.Siwisa School:13 years old #0735005789; Edith Joseph/G.A. Fort England: 57 years old (Fort England); Maybel Notyath/Stay at home Granny: 67 years old (no number); Phumeza Jelu/Stay at home: 23 years old #0799681887; Zola Tsihi /undefined: 32 years old (no number); Yandiswa Antomi/undefinded: 32 years old (no number); Lenande Jelu/Ntsika School: 15 years old #0781661850 and Sayama Ndimphiwe/undefined: 23 years old #0730453954

Proposal: meet at the pink house (owner has given permission) by MTN shop and near the bus stop on the corner as it is close to all of the participant’s houses

Equipment and staff: we will need a TV student and their camera to record the interview as well as a Radio student and their recording equipment and a Photojournalism student to take VOX pop style photographs at the beginning of the meeting and a Writing student to mediate the meeting. We have also decided to conduct the focus groups meetings in Xhosa so we will also need a translator. We will also need a design student to secure venue and snacks/drinks (we propose getting buying drinks and snacks together with other focus group team)

1. When we spoke to our focus group, the participants of which consisted of a varied demographic, they all came to the same conclusion: that the main problem with crime is poor service and reaction time by the police.

They said that many times they have attempted to complain to the police or their street committee but nothing has come about or been a permanent solution.
They said that for the most part that the youth are the perpetrators of crime in the area and that this is not only because of a lack on employment in Grahamstown but because of flaws in the education system and by the lack of interest by community leaders. They said that teachers don’t care what students do when they aren’t at school and there is a need for more extra-curricular activities to keep the youth occupied as well as more education in schools on crime.

2. Crime is affecting people in that some are thinking of re-locating elsewhere and the students in the focus group said that they want to leave the town itself as soon as they graduate from school as they don’t see themselves finding jobs or being happy in Grahamstown let alone Extension 6.
The crime has frightened people but so has the lack of police intervention and many do not feel safe in their homes.

Elvis Jalo, one of the focus group participants and the man that let us use his house as a venue, admits that he had the wall around his property knocked down and replaced it with a fence so that he can see thieves of gangs if they are loitering around his property.

Many of the focus group’s participants were related to or know of someone who has been severely affected, wounded or even died in event of violent crime. However they are highly critical not only of the police but of the justice system which often lets suspects, who were blatantly guilty or placed at the scene of the crime by eye witnesses, go out on bail or even let off without trial or proper holding sentence time.

Most of the participants say they would never tell the authorities who criminals are in the area, even though they know most of them by face and name, as they are scared that they will be victimised or threatened.
This fear is common in South Africa and prevalent in America. But fear of being victimised may not be the only reason for not “snitching”. In America ‘snitching’ is preventing the police and justice systems from working:
“[The] communities equate "snitching" with the concept of lesser criminals providing evidence on others' crimes to get their original crimes (and the punishment) reduced. It is that abuse of the "criminals' code" that is considered the deathly evil by other criminals. A 1995 National Institute of Justice Research in Action newsletter stated that prosecutors suspected that witness intimidation was in play in 75 percent or more of the violent crimes in gang-dominated neighbourhoods” (Omerta in the hood: 2008[1]).

This seems to be evident in Extension 6 and is a good explanation of what the focus group discussed the justice system and how it is constantly abused and if a criminal is put on trial or arrested then their friends and family will pull strings to get them out for various reasons.

3. Although the group has lost faith in the justice system they have solutions to their crime issues in the area. They are:
a. Make police presence more evident in the area by building permanent mobile police points in the area
b. Hold the police accountable for slow reaction time so that they react faster to break ins and acts of criminal violence
c. Hold the justice system accountable to prevent corruption and ensure fair trials
d. Get organisations and sponsors to organise extra-curricular activities for students and have youth systems with games rooms and monitors put in the extension to keep the youth away from gang culture


Continued work in King's Flats

Friday 18th September 2009

Mini-group 1
Lisa Brigham and Dominique Little


Today Dom and I went back into Extension 6 to find a venue for our coming focus group and to confirm participants.

Elvis, one of the participants allowed us to use his property to hold the focus group on and we met his wife to get formal permission.

We then phoned through our list of participants to find we came up short as some werent answering and some gave us their wrong numbers. We hope to find 'make up' participants before the focus group next week.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Reviewing the Civic Mapping Excercise 1

Wednesday 16th September 2009
Mini-group 1
Lisa Brigham and Dominique Little

Today we went into Kings Flats, known to the residents as extension 6, to start our civic mapping. We previously held a group meeting to delegate team roles and discuss how to approach the residents.

After splitting into mini-teams Dom and myself interviewed several residents who were willing to talk to us. Many of them were concerned with crime and were afraid to let their children play outside and alone.

Dom got some initial photographs of the area to aid us in getting a description of extension 6 and I felt that we got better at interviewing the residents as we moved on.It should be interesting to see what the rest of the team got in terms of interviews and information in our next meeting on Friday before our tutorial.

Mini-Group 2
Andrew Wassung and Simone Landers

Simone and I walked around, speaking to locals about issues they are confronting, most importantly of which is crime.

Everyone we talked to expressed grave concerns about the amount of crime going on most nights after dark, but especially on weekends.

We were told that the police, although situated right down the road, hardly ever make an appearance when called and only sometimes patrol the area. Two or three people caught our interest specifically and some did not want to be named having spoken about criminals, gangs and crime in general.

The area all around the local shebeen, which seems to be the cause of most of the violence, is full of glass bottles that provide stabbing tools for those doing crime. Some residents reported fears of letting their children even walk around, especially in the evenings. Women living at home alone or in a women-only household, expressed lots of fear and reports of drunk men breaking in and raping women seemed much to common.

Mini-Group 3
Zikhona Tshona and Carileigh Hansen

Cari and I walked around the area where the tavern is, interviewing people about crime in the area.

All of the people that we spoke to did say that they do not feel safe walking around the streets, stating that crime is in fact high in this area. As with the group above, people also mentioned that police service is completely unsatisfactory in the area. People said that the police would either not respond at all or take to long to do so, one woman also said that police would not come because of a shortage in vehicles to respond to crimes. A young girl whom we spoke to also said that in some cases, the community would take the issue of dealing with perpetrators of crime in their own hands, by beating them up.

A young man that we spoke to told us that a lot of crime in this area takes place in front of the tavern especially over weekends. He said that crime in this area is often done by young people known by the community. In most cases it’s basically an issue of “if the criminals know you, you are safe; if they don’t, you’re not”.

We also spoke to a shop owner, who said that in his business, crime is usually high around pension days, where long queues make the area an easy target for robbery. He also said that it is often very difficult for people to report crimes, because they may feel insecure about doing so or often people in the community might say that people allow criminal activities to happen to them. We also found out that there is a street forum in the community which deals with the issue of crime. This forum is headed by a woman, whom we managed to speak to; she has also agreed to organise a focus group meeting for us on Wednesday at 18:00.

Mini-Group 4
Guy Martin et al

Most people that we spoke to are concerned about crime. The Bangladeshi shop owners, for instance, have been robbed many times and were very heated when discussing how much of their property had been damaged due to theft.

The schoolchildren we spoke to were also concerned about crime and the fact that the do not feel safe when they are alone - one girl even told how she was being stalked by an older man.Another important issue is a lack of facilities in the area, such as sports fields. There is little to do, especially for the youth and as a result many turn to crime.

Mini-Group 5
Debra Liebenberg et al

Although Kings Flats is just a few kilometers away from Grahamstown, the differences between these two area's were noticeable straight away. In Grahamstown people use threatening "hi-tech security" signs and barbed wire to keep any possible attackers or thieves away. Most people in this area seem to be adamant about securing their homes and possessions which is why doors are closed, gates are locked and curtains are drawn.

When you walk down the street people cling onto their bags and try desperately not to make eye-contact. It seems that Grahamstonians are essentially isolating themselves from their community due to their own fears of crime. Although Kings Flats (in comparison to Grahamstown) has many more instances of crime the vibe in this area is alot more welcoming.While residents in this area seem to be aware of taking safety measures to secure their belongings they are not nearly as anal about it as Grahamstonians.

Instead of barbed wire and "hi-tech" signs, they have fences intertwined with thorn tree branches and stray dogs. I was amazed at how many people left their homes wide open to anyone who wished to enter. When my group and I first explored this area we were never stopped or questioned when we entered private residential homes. Instead we were welcomed and invited to sit down and talk. While walking along the streets most people made the effort to greet us with a smile and when we were lost people were happy to give directions.

One woman that we spoke to went so far as to warn us that we should not leave the car alone that we had travelled in. There is definately a stronger sense of community within Kings flats which is probably largely owed to the fact that the police designated to control this area allegedly dont do their jobs. Some shop owners told us of how their shop had been robbed three times and even though they were able to identify the victims the police made no effort to bring any justice. Other home owners told us that they had to wait three hours after calling the police for them to arrive and subsequently do nothing.

If the police are not willing to help these people who will be? It is therefore no suprise that there seems to be a strong sense of community as if the police wont protect these people they have only but eachother to turn to.