These Streets Belong To Us

Project Type
  • Documentary
  • Film
Running Time 54 minutes
Release Date July 23, 2011
Produced by:

Fort Greene Filmworks & Left Hand Films

Distributed by:

APT Worldwide
APT Worldwide Contact: Judy Barlow and
Kevin McKenna

Production Team:

Directors, Writers, Producers: Shareen Anderson and Lisa Henry
Cinematographers: Shareen Anderson, Joseph Gulyas, Ian Miller, and David Jacobs
Editors: Marina du Toit and Taku Kaskela
Narrator: Lisa Henry
Sound Recordists: Sam Masamene and Tebogo Rangwaga
Music: Music Box, Mama Dance!, KPM
Post Production Assistant: Ivy Sithole
Special Thanks: Ekhaya Neighborhood, Primedia and Talk Radio 702, South African Police Service, Kensington Residents Association, Centre for Violence and Reconciliation, Alexandra Community Policing Forum

With one of highest crime rates in the world, South Africans are struggling with the repercussions of living in a country where they feel they are at the mercy of criminals and that the police cannot protect them. Much of the crime is often accompanied by gratuitous violence – torture, rape and assault often go hand in hand with hijackings and robberies – making the threat of crime so much more terrifying to the average citizen.

South Africa now also has the biggest divide between wealthy and poor in the world, not only between black and white but with a gap that is growing intraracially, too. Experts believe it is this visible difference between the haves and the have-nots that adds fuel to the fire in terms of violence and aggression in relation to crime. An average of fifty people a day are murdered in South Africa. It also has the highest rape rate in the world.

So what are communities doing to protect themselves?

These Streets Belong To Us looks at how ordinary South Africans are coping with the scourge of crime and its accompanying violence. The film tells several stories coming out of three different Johannesburg communities; Kensington, a middle class suburb that is jolted into action after a street security guard is murdered while on duty; Alexandra, a mostly poor black township that has formed a community policing forum that patrols the streets in an unconventional way and lends a helping hand to the overburdened police; and Hillbrow, a densely populated inner city neighborhood, which was a “no go” zone for police for many years, but is now undergoing massive regeneration.

These Streets Belong To Us also looks into what the police are doing to battle crime. The country now has a new police chief who has been in the job less than a year – General Bheki Cele has vowed to come down hard on criminals and has told those under him to “use deadly force” when dealing with “anyone with a gun in their hand”. While he has been criticized for his gung-ho approach, many South Africans welcome his tough stance as crime continues to spiral out of control.

Although These Streets Belong To Us doesn’t shy away from the hard facts and the disturbing stories of grief, loss, and violence, it is balanced with stories of empowerment and grassroots movements, and a hopeful vision of the future for this young democratic society.

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