From a hunch to a hop on board

phie From a hunch to a hop on board

A Dutch PhD student's serendipitous journey of finding and preparing a research topic on policing in Cape Town 

 By no means am I providing any (in)definitive arguments or conclusions on the topic of (community) policing in South Africa, as this post is only based on preliminary orientation. This blog is an informative post on the kickstart of my quest for a new research topic while still working on my PhD project. It aims to highlight how topic formation and fieldwork come together due to both planning and coincidences; and how I went from a hunch to a potentially relevant research project.

It started back in August 2019 when I was reading the independent opinion magazine 'De Groene Amsterdammer' whilst enjoying the sunshine of one of Amsterdam's particularly hot but rare summer days. Turning the page, my eye fell on a piece by Dutch correspondent Fred de Vries on Cape Town's gang violence of which the final sentence caught my attention: "Bonteheuwel, [with] an average of two murders per week, experienced its first victimless month in July. That success is attributed to the Neighborhood Safety Team [NST], a combination of police and local residents, who patrol on foot". With a waterflood of questions running through my mind I hopped behind my laptop and started looking for more information: Was this number correct, and how did they measure that? What is the idea behind a NST? How do they operate and why did they contribute to the drop of local murder rates?

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Feeding the wolves

night-life Night-life security staff

 The beginning of event security fieldwork

As I'm only at the beginning of the intriguing field work period of about 8 to 12 months, I'm wary about doing official statements on the world of event security1. This post does however introduce some thoughts and yet indefinite statements about the groups that I've started to observe the last two months....

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Night Life
Night-Life Security Staff

Phie van Rompu

Free fight groups and hooligans

Rozalie Lekkerkerk

Delinquent youth
Delinquent youth

Floris Mosselman

Police teams
Police teams

Laura Keesman


Raheel Dhattiwala and Don Weenink

Vigilante Mob
Vigilante mob violence

Muhammad Asif

Video analysis
Video analysis of violent interactions

Raheel Dhattiwala, David van der Duin and Don Weenink

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