SPEECH BY THE CITY’S EXECUTIVE MAYOR, PATRICIA DE LILLE

UN Women country programme coordinator, Loveness Nyakujarah, councillors, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

Good morning, goeie môre, molweni, as salaam alaikum, shalom.

It is such a pleasure for me to be with you today as Women’s Month draws to a close.

I believe that, every year, this month is a call to women to take a stand.

It’s not a time to talk about all the problems we have.

It’s not a time to be victims.

It’s an opportunity to demand empowerment.

It’s a time to discuss solutions.

That is exactly what we are here to do today.

During Women’s Month last year, UN Women Executive Director, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, and I announced a partnership between the United Nations Women and City of Cape Town.

We shared in the vision of making cities safer for women and girls.

Building a safe city is one of the pillars of our governance strategy. 

We have learnt that if residents feel threatened by violence or crime, they can never truly access the opportunities that the city and fellow citizens offer them.

And if half of the women of our city cannot access opportunities, it means that our city will only be half as great as it can be.

Every year we make significant investments in public transport infrastructure and in particular the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System, MyCiTi.

However, the safety for women and girls can be an obstacle for accessing the service.

This impacts their freedom of movement and their access to opportunities when we consider how far Atlantis is from the rest of the city.

Together with you, we set out on a project to achieve the following:

  • Reduce incidents of sexual violence and other forms of violence and crimes against women and girls accessing and using the MyCiTi Bus Service.
  • Increase the experience of safety for women and girls in accessing and using the BRT system, and thereby increase mobility of women and girls.
  • Provide recommendations on how the MyCiTi roll-out might be enhanced by the learnings from the programme.

After the completion of workshops, surveys, safety audits, crime-mapping and interviews, we believe that we now have a deeper understanding of Atlantis and the nature of local crime and violence.

We found that most women in Atlantis feel nervous, uneasy or scared in public spaces and that access to public transport is considered less safe than actually using public transport.

Areas that are considered to be the most unsafe include bus stops, public streets, parks, unused open spaces, informal settlements and areas around Council flats.

We learnt that women and girls employ various methods to keep safe, including avoidance and self-defence.

Some of the interventions that we have and will implement include the following:

  • Developing ‘safe-routes’ for commuters to move around in areas of high visibility.
  • Increased maintenance, use and improvement of open spaces.
  • Effective consultation on further infrastructural roll-out of MyCiTi in order to effectively engage the community in the determination of permanent infrastructure.
  • Improving the safety of Council flats which contribute to gangsterism and violence in the area.

It is wonderful to see that the community committed to spearheading their own initiatives such as using social media and cellphone messaging services to update one another and implementing ‘buddy’ systems and walking groups.

I want to thank everyone for giving up their time to attend these sessions to give their input. It is truly active citizenry at its finest.

You have identified an issue and worked with us to find ways to address it.

I believe that this is just the beginning of the progress we will be making possible together. I look forward to celebrating our joint success and increased safety.

I thank you.

God bless.