Dear Premier Zille,
Triangle Project is an LGBTI human rights organisation which has been working in Cape Town and other parts of the Western Cape for over 20 years. We provide direct services such counseling to LGBTI people, encourage community development and activism and advocate for the rights of LGBTI people.
We are an organisation which places the concept of interesectionality at the centre of our work. By this we mean that we understand that the factors which place the rights of an LGBTI person in danger are various and overlapping and stem not merely from sexual orientation or gender identity but race, class, education and geography.
This means for the over 200 mostly young LGBTI people who make up our network of Safe Spaces, sexual orientation and gender identity is one factor which can infringe on their rights, but so too does the fact that they are black in a society scarred by apartheid and colonialism; that they are poor in a deeply inequitable country; and that these factors mean that they live in communities which are more violent, less resourced and further away from economic opportunity.
Several years ago, we were among the civil society organisations who approached you regarding safety and security in Khayelitsha, resulting in your establishment of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry (KCI). The Commission received many harrowing accounts of residents as well as members of the South African Police Services which all showed what many of us knew – that Khayelitsha in particular had inadequate and completely inequitable resources provided for its safety and security by the SAPS.
Another important element in the Commission’s report is the fact that the broken systems and under-resourced responses affected everyone who lived in Khayelitsha but especially affected those who were already prone to violence, intimidation, poor service and discrimination. This underpins our understanding of intersectionality which means that the black African lesbian woman living in Khayelitsha has her rights infringed because of her Blackness, her sexual orientation, her gender and her class and that our inability to address inequality affects certain groups of people more acutely than others.
We think that an essential part of bringing dignity and opportunity to the lives of all people in South Africa begins by undoing apartheid special planning – bringing people secure accommodation close to jobs and other services. For LGBTI people in particular, who disproportionately are the victims of violence in already-violent communities and who already face discrimination in the job market; reducing these systemic barriers is about dignity but also survival.
We therefore think it is vital for every sphere of government involved in housing to ensure that more is done to create mixed-income and safe housing opportunities in the same places where people need to work and which continue to benefit from historic disparities related to access to quality government services.
The Tafelberg site offers an ideal opportunity for the City of Cape Town to rise above narrow class and race interests and to pro-actively redress Apartheid spatial legacies by providing social housing for working class women and men in Seapoint.
Elsbeth Engelbrecht (Director)
Matthew Clayton (Research and Advocacy Manager)
Sindiswa Thafeni (Community Engagement and Empowerment Manager)
Mabhuti Mkangeli (Community Engagement and Empowerment Fieldworker)
Sharon Cox (Health and Support Services Programme Manager)
Heather Adonis (Health and Support Services Programme Coordinator)
Nolene Zeegers (Finances Administrator)