Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2014

Capstone Advisor

Professor John Western

Honors Reader

Professor Susan Wadley

Capstone Major

International Relations

Capstone College

Citizenship and Public Affairs

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories

Social Sciences

Subject Categories

African Studies | International and Area Studies | Other International and Area Studies


Policing in South Africa has a long, twisted history that is still evident in some current police practices and especially in the public’s perceptions of the police. In addition to historical factors such as colonial rule and apartheid, people’s perceptions of the police are affected by their race, class, gender, and geographic location. Although these factors have an individual effect on perceptions, it is through a complex analysis of how they relate to one another that a true understanding of a person’s perception can be reached. The goal of this research was to discover perceptions women in Cape Town have of the police and how these perceptions relate to race, class, gender and location.

In order to determine this, one focus group and three individual interviews were conducted in both Langa Township and Stellenbosch. Sixteen women and one man participated. The sessions revealed four main themes: women’s perceptions of their overall safety, the way that higher class status can be used to procure added security measures, that the police are perceived to be generally ineffective, and that race and its connections to gender have a great impact on perceptions of the police. Although the expected outcome was that women would perceive they were treated poorly on the basis of their gender and further that women in Stellenbosch, as the white upper class, would have a more positive perception of the police than women in Langa, as the black working class, this was not demonstrated by the findings. Instead, the sessions revealed that all of the women felt unsafe in their areas, regardless of the location and that they believed the police to be ineffective, albeit for a variety of different reasons.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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