The Communications Team’s View


Working Team Members: Alfred, Amanda, Kholeka, Khungeka, Phumelisa, Siyanda, Trevor, Victoria, Zameka, Zodwa

CORC Representatives: Mwau Baraka, Olwethu Jack

Municipality Representatives: Harold Lamberts, Johru “Joey” Robyn, Natasha Siyengele, Hendri Steenberg

WPI Project Team: Brittany, Caryn, Juan, Megan, Michaella, Ralle, Sarah, Tim

WPI Advisor Team: Robert Hersh, Scott Jiusto

For more information on these people, please view our Cast of Characters page.


The informal settlement of Langrug was formed over twenty years ago amongst the Stellenbosch Winelands in the mountains of Franschhoek. In the past two years, Langrug has been working as a community to upgrade their settlement with the partnership of the Municipality of Stellenbosch and CORC. Last year, two student teams from WPI worked with the community on a greywater project and the design of new WaSH pods. These teams were able to build a strong working relationship with the community that enabled progress to be made in these two projects. From this past work, a solid partnership was formed between WPI and the Langrug leadership. For our project, we will be continuing to work with the Langrug community to help support and foster greater communication between the community, the Langrug leadership and the other local partners.


These first two days on-site in Langrug served as a very real introduction to many of the core communication issues within the community as well as between other stakeholders in the partnership. We were all very overwhelmed by the poor physical state of the community, the tension between the leaders and the Municipality and the challenges that were already emerging. It is important to note that our sponsor David Carolissen, more casually referred to as Dawie, fell ill just days before our time in Langrug began. Therefore, we were never formally introduced to the Municipality’s side of the issues, and our perceptions were somewhat more swayed toward those of the community members. In witnessing this complex dynamic between these two groups, one thing was clear: communication was definitely the greatest problem facing this community.

Initial Tour Highlights Many Contrasts


The moment we’d all been waiting for had finally arrived when we set foot in Langrug for the first time. We received an hour-long tour of the settlement where we got to see many of the problems around the community as well as interact with the working group members. These initial impressions were critical in beginning to build our relationships with the people we’d be working with for the next seven weeks. To read the full scene, click here.

First Partnership Meeting: Tensions Emerge

After our tour of Langrug, we sat down with the working group, Municipality officials and Sizwe, the CORC representative, to discuss WPI’s role over the  next two months. However, the conversation was quickly steered toward the broken partnership among these different parties. Grievances were aired and misunderstandings were brought to light in one of the most tense meetings of our young lives. In the end, the solution that was reached was to hold more regular meetings between the Municipality and the working group in hopes of improving communication and the partnership. To read the full scene, click here.

A More Positive Start to Day Two

The meeting that began our second day in Langrug was completely different from the first. Everyone already seemed more willing to leave past grievances behind and focus on proactively improving the community. We also shared our first lunch with the working group, a meal that would become somewhat of an issue as the term progressed. To read the full scene, click here.

Challenges of Reblocking

A smaller group meeting allowed some of us to get more in-depth into the reblocking process, particularly the current status of Langrug in the first section they wish to reblock. It became apparent that the working group did not have all of the information they needed despite their beliefs prior to this meeting. To read the full scene, click here.

Envisioning a Multi-purpose Centre

From this group, it was learned that the design of the MPC was, for the most part, conceptually finalized. The implementation of the project was dependent on coming up with a cost analysis, buying materials, and making sure the Municipality agrees to the final plans. There were concerns about the lack of progress on this project changing the community’s perception of the leaders in a threatening, mistrusting way. This makes the need for MPC implementation all the more urgent. To read the full scene, click here.

Zwelitsha’s Unique Problems

This group acquired community feedback from the residents of Zwelitsha, the upper section of the settlement. The goal was to learn about the problems with their chemical toilets, but the community members shared so many more of their issues that we could never have anticipated. In the end, we decided to focus more on the previous two topics of the MPC and reblocking. However, this was an excellent opportunity to connect with the community as well as some working group members while opening our eyes to the many issues that need to be fixed within Langrug. To read the full scene, click here.

Reporting Sets a Precedent for the Future

At the end of our second day in Langrug, all three groups came together to report on the progress that had been made. The working group women as well as the WPI women were responsible for summarising the work done in their three project teams. This activity highlighted some areas that we can help the working group improve upon, like reporting and presenting to a larger group in English. To read the full scene, click here.