Safe Node Area: Paarl East

Paarl is a growing rural town that is situated in the Cape Winelands and Drakenstein Municipality, it is one of the oldest towns in South Africa. The Safe Node Area is in Paarl East, an area characterised by a high level of crime with extreme levels of violence and gangsterism, specifically in Chicago and certain areas of Groenheuwel, as well as inequality and segregation from access to resources and connection to Paarl West and Mbekweni.
Paarl may be considered the ‘divided town’, a spatial legacy of the social engineering pursued by apartheid seeing most poor communities located to the east side of the Berg River. This river, together with unused riverfronts, railway, major vehicular route along the river, and the industrial strip spatially segregates, while an abundance of resources (schools, health facilities) in both Paarl East and central town further discourage people to come together central locations – people are spatially encouraged to remain in their local area and not ‘cross the river’. All of these elements together build up a huge barrier to integration.


Priority projects include an area-based ECD resources strategy and targeted youth interventions at drop outs via NGO partners. This includes the recruitment and training of Placemakers in partnership with Department of Community Safety, Chrysalis Academy and Wolvekloof. Another focus is a joint project with local schools to support out-of-school children, extracurricular activities and holiday programmes. The DRK area is now established as a priority area for Alcohol Harms Reduction and After School Game Changers, and these programmes are being linked at implementation level. The multi-stakeholder and partnership driven Youth and Lifestyle Centre Programme was launched in August 2016 and has since offered variety of quality afterschool programmes and alternative activities for school and out-of-school Youth from the broader community, including Friday Youth Nights. A special programme is offered during holiday season.

Working towards improved access to quality jobs through implementing a comprehensive Local Economic Development (LED) strategy that has a particular focus to improve employment opportunities and support emerging and existing small businesses (LED strategy is wider and includes sustainable livelihoods, attract investment, etc.); increased youth self-awareness and aspiration plans; partnerships for high quality targeted programmes; and strengthen network connections to practical opportunities.

Game changers in Drakenstein

Drakenstein is the host of two Provincial level Game Changers, namely the After School Game Changer and the Alcohol Harms Reduction Game. The intention of the Game Changers is to prototype in a transversal team a solution to a specific defined complex issue. If successfully resolved the intention is to scale the solution to similar contexts in other areas. The interactions within the Game Changers are intensive and solutions are driven through a dedicated unit.

The After School Game Changer’s goal is to increase Western Cape learners’ regular and sustained participation in after-school activities contributing towards positive youth development. This is to be achieved through concentrating around 3 levers:

  • Creative and enabling environment
  • Quality Programming
  • Unlocking resource and capacity through collaboration models.

Within the ASGC the role of VPUU is to act as facilitator in the Paarl East collaboration site –to implement within the Safe Node Area a Youth and Lifestyle Centre (YLC) within the New Orleans Secondary School. There are overlaps to the AHR Gamechanger. A strong partnership has been developed with Department of Community Safety around the YLC. The lead department for the implementation of the ASGC is the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport in collaboration with the Development Facility Unit. The overall goal is to reach by 2019 20% of the Children attending the 2 high schools in Paarl East with regular attended after school activities

Drakenstein has become a focus area for The Goal of the AHR Game Changer is to contribute towards socially active and safer neighbourhoods by reducing alcohol related injuries in selected areas in the Western Cape. Main outcomes are the reduction in illegal outlets, enhanced sense of safety on community level and reduced supply to unregulated outlets. The target is to reduce the alcohol harms in the geographic target areas by 20% by 2019. For this purpose 3 levers are identified which are:

  • Reduce access to alcohol
  • Enhance quality and participation in recreational and economic alternatives
  • Reduce alcohol consumption of high risk users and youth.

Within the AHR the role of VPUU is to work within levers 1 and 2 in particular in providing support to community stakeholders (local area team), to the Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) groups to ensure that a NHW is set up, functional, supported and uses the equipment and tools provided for an efficient service to monitor shebeens, to improve the safety of patrons, and to assist in implementing house rules to reduce the negative impact of shebeens in Paarl East, parts of GUNYA and parts of Khayelitsha. The Department of Community Safety is the primary department that assists with implementing this Game Changers in collaboration with the Development Facility Unit (DFU) in the Premiers Office.


Formalised engagement with leadership group (SNAC), dissemination of programme information, managing the process of incremental improvement of the neighbourhood. The Safe Node Area of Paarl East has strong social capital in each area, VPUU’s presence has increased since the opening of the office at Thusong Centre. The Safe Node Area Committee is the voice of the community and has shown commitment to improving and uplifting their areas. Community Mobilisation plays a major role in creating awareness and social contributions from all communities inside the Safe Node Area.


Paarl East Public Investment Framework (PIF) develops the underlying idea of establishing a dynamic public realm to encourage social cohesion by focusing on a ‘Zone of Integration’. The purpose is to provide a sense of the whole to identify spaces for implementation purposes. This assists a phased approach to the upgrade and develop strategic precincts with clear design guidelines for intervention over time as follows: Integral Precinct Plans– focus on safety, activation, Operations and Maintenance, management between line departments, Western Cape Government, VPUU and community:

  • Focus Area 1: YOUTH & LIFESTYLE CENTRE – STRATEGIC VISION for INTEGRATION: initial focus at New Orleans Secondary School working with WCG (DCAS,DoCS, DSD, WCED, DoH) as After School Game Changer and MoD Centre.
  • Focus Area 2: CHICAGO WALKING BUS &FREEDOM PARK UPGRADE – SAFETY & STABILISATION: proposal for upgrade to Freedom Park working with Planning, Human Settlements, Sports & Parks, Solid Waste, LED Line Departments and safety – DRK traffic safety, SAPS, DoCS. This builds on the “walking bus” and the spatial implications of Freedom Park.
  • Focus Area 3: HOUSE OF LEARNING & URBAN PARK – INTEGRATED APPROACH: upgrade of the Library and Fairyland Sports Stadium Planning, Libraries, Sports and Parks, LED, Civil Engineering.

Research and Development

Effective M&E systems are developed to track progress against agreed programme’s activities and targets. Local capacities are strengthened to support programme’s implementation. Strategic sessions are held regularly to reflect on achievements, challenges and lessons learnt. Progress on implementation is shared with programme’s beneficiaries, partners and funders at agreed times through progress reports

The Provincial Strategic Goal 3 (PSG3), Improving Wellness, Safety, and Tackling Social Ills, forms part of the Provincial Strategic Plan 2014-2019 (PSP) of the Western Cape Government. These targets will be reached through the transversal work on key projects implemented by five government departments (Health, Social Development, Transport and Public Works, Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport). PSG 3 aims to develop an Integrated Service Delivery Model (ISDM) based on the Public Health approach and linked to Wellness, a healthy and safe community.

The initial focus area has been Paarl East where there is a synergy between VPUU area and PSG 3. The role of VPUU is seen in particular as strategic partner to assist PSG 3 with:

  • Development and set up of a governance model for Integrated Service Delivery per PSG 3 area;
  • A centrally located Data Observatory is created to track performance and implementation to be able to measure impact;
  • Local leadership forums are setup;
  • CAP’s are co- created or revised per area and signed off by municipality, WCG, and local leadership;
  • Development of a scalable model in terms of interventions, governance and systems. The PSG 3 is seen as a strategic intervention that allows the VPUU methodology and strategy to be replicated, broadened, and incorporated into government practise.

Location: Drakenstein
SNA: Paarl East
Timeline: 2014 - Current

Related Stories:

Towards a Community Circular Economy. Read about our CO-CARE voucher programmeCLICK HERE