SweepSouth supports Black Lives Matter and the international and national fight for racial equality. This movement is particularly poignant for us when we consider the extreme racial inequality that still exists in South Africa more than 25 years after the advent of democracy.
Worse still, police brutality and misconduct (including ignoring reports of gender-based violence and child abuse) disproportionately affect economically vulnerable South Africans (most of whom are black and brown) and particularly women. Both of these groups typify the SweepStars who find work via the SweepSouth platform and who are a crucial part of our broader community. The statistics around police brutality in South Africa, especially amongst those living in low-income communities, are in many ways even more pronounced than in the US. Complaints of police brutality in South Africa have increased by 30% during lockdown, there have been almost 30,000 reported cases of police brutality filed since 2014, and there are over 200 deaths in police custody annually. Only 3.9% of reported cases result in disciplinary action, and only 1.3% result in a conviction.
Our values at SweepSouth emphasise respect and dignity and honesty and trust, and as an organisation, we’re committed to our mission of trying to help uplift people through providing access to dignified work, and to opportunities for upskilling and upliftment. Some examples include establishing a 24h hotline during lockdown to support SweepStars in interactions with authorities, our continued partnership with The Warrior Project to provide support in cases of GBV, and the ability for SweepStars to rate their clients and the immediate deactivation of any customer who contravenes our values.
Internally, as a technology company headed by a black woman, we’ve worked hard to ensure that racial and gender diversity and adequate representation are at the heart of our recruitment and talent management strategy and planning. We have also never shied away from frank discussion about how we can do better, and how we can continue to be a good example of the power of diversity, in an industry (technology and startups) that is still too far away from being representative enough.
It is for these reasons that we are proud to voice our support for the Black Lives Matter movement around the world, which we hope will result in deep reflection on the institutionalised racism which still robs people of colour of opportunities, and it is our hope that this movement will kickstart open dialogue and policy change that will ultimately result in dignified and equal treatment of people of colour by police and society at large.