International Journal of
Sociology and Anthropology

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. Sociol. Anthropol.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-988X
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJSA
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 315

Full Length Research Paper

Towards meaningful social development in the covid-19 era: Strategies for capacity building in a gang-affected community in Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha), South Africa

Theodore Petrus
  • Theodore Petrus
  • Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 09 July 2021
  •  Published: 31 July 2021


At the second think-tank session of the Helenvale Dialogues initiative held in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, in May 2018, the main theme of the session focused on scenario planning for the community of Helenvale, regarded as one of the most fragile and volatile communities in Port Elizabeth.  The author, as an invited member of the think-tank, engaged in group discussions with other attendees, with the aim of outlining three possible scenarios for where the Helenvale community could find itself by 2030. None of the scenarios predicted the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which began in 2020, and wreaked havoc across the country and globally. Within this context, this article highlights what the author considers to be three key focus areas for meaningful capacity building and social development in the community, in order to avoid the most negative scenario that could impact on Helenvale, particularly within the “new normal” of the Covid-19 environment. Attention is given particularly to the challenge of gangsterism and gang violence, one of the most serious issues affecting the community.


Key words: Social development, capacity building, Covid-19, gangsterism, gang violence, urban upgrading initiative, community coaching, negative subculture, indigenous knowledge, Port Elizabeth (Gqeberha).