Masiphumelele: for insight into the life and people of  Masiphumelele in the Scenic South Peninsula Anyone stopping at the fourway intersection on Kommetjie Road and Ou Kaapse Weg will be immediately aware of the steady stream of combi taxis and purposeful pedestrians moving to and from Masi as it is affectionately called. Masiphumelele is isiXhosa for “We will Succeed” and the name defines the determination of Masi residents to rise above their many challenges.peace-among-africans

In the early 1990’s Masi was known to most people as Site 5.  It was number 5 of 9 `sites’ in Cape Town’s South Peninsula that were considered for the development of a residential area to house people working in the Scenic South, but who had to travel far to get to work, or who lived in appalling conditions near the old Noordhoek dump. Masi has grown from a barely serviced tract of land to the bustling community of about 30 000 people that it is today.  The first community building was the multi-functional community centre called the `Pink House’ which is still a landmark. While neither services nor the need for land for housing is keeping up with the demand, community facilities now include a junior and high school, community hall, a modern and well supported library and a thriving small business community.

Masi with its overcrowding, unemployment and range of residents from across South Africa and other African states has many challenges. But on the weekend when the sun is shining the streets are abuzz with kids playing, people greeting friends and neighbours and Kwaito music.

If you know Masi well, please write to us about life there, the passions and pastimes of the community.  And if you don’t know Masi well, why don’t you consider going on a walking tour with Charlotte Swartbooi, a local who is also a tour guide.

 Read all the latest exciting news from Masiphumelele Library

Job Opportunity for residents of Masiphumelele

For the latest Masiphumelele Ikamva Youth news see

Masiphumelele NGO Forum deals with issues relating to life in Masi

For details of non-government organisations working in Masiphumelele see the Masiphumelele Non-Government Organisation forum booklet

For the minutes of the meeting held at the beginning of Feb 2012 see

Matters dealt with include fire and safety issues, The Living Way’s job appllication centre, the Homeless People’s project, the All Nations Orphans and Vulnerable Children project and projects of Constellations Trust.

Ikamva Youth

Read about the exciting things happening in Masiphumelele through Ikamva Youth, a group in need of more tutors

Young Mbu Maloni of Masiphumelele publishes his first book

Mbu’s story is the story of countless other young men and women in South Africa, born into similar situations of hardship, growing up abandoned or neglected by parents themselves in need of parenting. What makes his story different is that it is a journey not of despair but transformation, lit by the kindness of friends and strangers, and Mbu’s own determination not to stop hoping for a better life.

Presbyterian Phumlani Educare Centre

Presbyterian Phumlani Educare Centre in Masiphumelele provides loving care and a stimulating environment for young children. Read more …

Why given the horror of shack fires do Cities attract residents from poor rural areas?

Reconstruction after the May 2011 fire at the Masiphumelele informal settlement area in the SouthPeninsula will be ongoing for months, but for many of those affected, life has returned to a semblance of normality.  What kind of `normality’ is life in a settlement that could just as easily go up in smoke again?  In many instances cities provide better access to schools, clinics and social grants than rural areas. NGO’s provide a range of additional support  and let’s face it, the social buzz of city living is a big attraction.  Understand the pull of urbanization at

How to buy or rent a home in Masiphumelele?

This article gives an explanation of the challenges of finding a plot, or house to buy or rent in
Masiphumelele.  It does provide some phone numbers and hopefully some hope.  Read it at:

Masiphumelele Careers Indaba 2011 a great success

Read about the exciting experiences had by youngsters attending the Ikamva Youth winter school in Masiphumelele:

Uplifting projects in Masiphumelele need support

There are times and situations when goods and money freely given go a long way to easing the burden of people living under the yoke of poverty; and the burden of those unpaid dedicated people working selflessly to try to make things better for their fellow beings….

Women’s Initiative in Masiphumelele – a spirit of giving

Under the chairmanship and guidance of 24 year old Mziyanda Mphikwa, 78 women in Masi came together at the beginning of September to forge the Women’s Association with the intention of finding solutions for the great social ills under which many of their community are suffering.

Read more:

Read also

Masiphumelele is also the home of great craftsmen and artists.

Read all about young Masiphumelele resident , Luyanda Ngodlwana, who amongst other things creates the most fascinating World Cup 2010 team supporter hats!

History of Masiphumelele

Masiphumelele, formerly known as Site 5, was renamed by the residents. In Xhosa, the main language of the community, Masiphumelele means “we shall succeed”.

In the early 1980s a group of 400-500 people started the informal settlement in the area where the Longbeach Mall is located, close to where Masiphumelele is today. They came from Khayalitsha, Nyanga and Langa townships, more than 30kms away. At first there were no facilities – no streets, water or toilets.

In the 1990s the government decided to give the people who work in Fish Hoek and the surrounding areas a piece of land with water, streets and toilets. At the same time many people came from the Eastern Cape looking for jobs and places to stay. There was not enough space for them.

The Masiphumelele community were united throughout the struggle. In the following years they managed to get more land and better facilities. Today there is a primary school and a high school, a clinic and a library. The present infra-structure supports the community and along with NGO input on many levels provides a better life for all in spite of the ongoing challenges facing the people of Masiphumelele.

Written by Veronica Mlambisa, Assistant librarian, Masi Library

Masiphumelele Library partners with Ikamvayouth

‘Before I thought my life was doomed, but now I am loving each and every moment’

The above quote was taken from a student’s evaluation, and displays the extraordinary impact of Ikamvayouth, an educational NGO operating in Masiphumelele focused on raising South African youth out of poverty. Read more

IkamvaYouth Matriculants  2010 celebrate!



HOKISA, home to 18 children affected in some way by HIV/Aids lies in the heart of Masi in more ways than one. Read more about HOKISA in our article


Working For Love Community support in Masi

Work for Love supports Siyakhula Educare in Masiphumelele.  you can help too by sponsoring a child or by donating household goods you no longer use.  Read more at

Masiphumelele, “we shall succeed” in Xhosa, is home to 30 000 people being the last estimate.  It is suggested that the number could be more.  It is an area that has faced many difficulties from flooding to fires raging across the shacks with many people loosing the few possessions they have.  Masi has a large number of unemployed adults and young school leavers, which leads to many social issues, the number one being malnourishment especially in the children.

Masi schools are on the Peninsula Feeding Scheme which provides scholars with a meal a day.  This, in most cases, is the only meal the children will have.  Some children have another meal on their way home when they go to the Catholic Welfare and Developments Soup Kitchen.  All Nations provides food parcels for many vulnerable children to ensure they get another meal in the day.  If they do have another meal it would most likely be mealie meal.  Other organizations also provide sandwiches to Ukhanyo Primary. These are dropped off and distributed to the children during their school break. The Methodist Church, the Matthew Project provide sandwiches on a weekly basis and the Constantia Catholic Church provides sandwiches every quarter.

In spite of these efforts, many children go to school hungry and as we all know you cannot teach a hungry child.  Work For Love is a NPO which operates in Masiphumele and one our many projects is nutrition.   One of our ideas for this year is to get a few schools willing to adopt Ukhanyo Primary and Masiphumelele High School and once a week to collect fresh fruit, which is lacking in the children’s diet, as well as fresh vegetables which we could collect and drop off at the two schools. So, if any school is willing to contribute to this programme, please contact us.

We are also looking for volunteers to assist in Masiphumelele, whether it is working with children, painting the educare centre, handing out sandwiches or just doing some office work.  Even if it is for one hour it is still greatly appreciated.  I would love to have enough volunteers to assist with the sandwich distribution at the primary school as I believe it one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.  And of course interacting with the children is just a lovely bonus.  If you would love to become a part of what is happening in Masiphumele we ask that you complete our volunteer registration form, come in for an interview and pay a R100 admin fee and we then place you where you would best be suited.  It is in giving of ourselves that we touch the Divinity which resides in each of us.

The beauty of working in Masiphumelele is that the many organisations come together and share information and brain storm about the mountain of needs for the area.  For example, the Desmond Tutu Foundation provides wonderful support for people living with HIV and their research is always ongoing together with the continual education for the prevention of HIV.  Living Hope also does an enormous amount of clinical work.  It is such a pleasure working in a supportive community of volunteers and to know that we are all going in the same direction There are many organisation operating in Masi all doing exceptional work and they definitely make working and living in Masi a real pleasure.  If you would like to be part by volunteering or to make a donation please contact me so we can make an even bigger impact.

Work For Love – Growing The Community

Shirley Watchow

Office number – 021 785 4431

Cell number – 078 611 9476

Appeal for fire-awareness in informal areas – Extract from City Media Release

The City’s Fire and Rescue Service recorded fewer incidents involving fires in informal settlements in 2009 compared to previous years. This is despite an increase in the number of dwelling units in informal settlements, resulting in densification which affects the Service’s ability to access certain areas in the quickest possible time.

In an attempt to improve the City’s fire fighting ability in informal settlements and to alleviate the effect of densification in these areas, seven new fire engines (with 4 x 4 capabilities) were acquired late last year which are specifically designed to assist fire fighters in mountainous and informal settlement areas. These have been deployed effectively, and staff are carrying out pro-active inspections of informal and other areas to recognise risk areas and pre-plan effectively.

“We appeal to people to be sensible with regards to fires, and report fires immediately if they are seen. There is a general tendency when people see fires to think that someone else has reported it, but if they report it quickly, it means we can respond quickly,” said Schnetler.  There are also prohibitions in place on the making of fires in the open air across the Western Cape, due to extraordinary fire hazards. This includes the burning of rubbish or any other material for purposes of disposal – this action is illegal.

A few important tips on how to reduce the risk of fires include:

  • Every home needs at least one exit route which will enable the occupants to escape should a fire break out.
  • Keep matches, lighters, paraffin and poisons in a safe place that is not accessible to children.
  • Keep stoves on a flat surface, away from draughts and anything that could catch fire.
  • Open fires and stoves should never be left unattended.
  • Extinguish candles and paraffin lamps before you go to sleep or leave your home.
  • Smoking in bed is dangerous.
  • Keep a bucket of water and a bucket of sand ready to extinguish any fires that break out.
  • If a paraffin stove catches alight, extinguish the flames with sand rather than water.
  • Turn off the electricity at the mains before trying to extinguish an electric fire.

Media enquiries: Ian Schnetler, Chief Fire Officer, City of Cape Town, Tel: 021 590 1738 or Cell: 084 220 0214 Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, Manager: Systems Integration and Special Projects, Disaster Risk Management Centre, Cell: 084 711 7709

To read full media release click here

NEWS ALERT!!!  2nd May Fire in Masiphumelele.
Families from the 500 homes burnt in the worst fire in Cape Town in many years are in desperate need of blankets, clothing, household goods, building materials and food.  Click here to find out where to donate to Masi Fire victims. No amount is too small.