Darsha Indrajith
2 minute read
8 Jun 2015
12:35 pm

Are the roads safe for women runners?

Darsha Indrajith

Women runners often have to put up with things male runners don’t have to. Some women don’t run alone or when it’s too dark out of fear for their safety, while others make a conscious decision to wear baggy clothes so they don’t get catcalled when they run.

Runners begin the Durban leg of the Spar Women's Challenge on 7 June 2015. 17 607 runners registered for the race. Picture: Darsha Indrajith

At Sunday’s Spar Women’s Challenge in Durban, we spoke to some women on what it’s like to be a woman runner in a patriarchal society.

Lunga Mfaka

Lunga Mfaka. Picture: Darsha Indrajith

Mfaka runs in the mornings and the afternoons, when there are other people running in her area. “There are people around training, so you make buddies along the route,” she says.


Noxolo Ndlovu

Noxolo Ndlovu. Picture: Darsha Indrajith

“I do small jogs at home. Sometimes I do feel safe, depending on what times I’m jogging. At night I have people that I jog with, but in the mornings it’s ok because there are many people around the streets. My area’s not exactly safe. Sometimes women can be violated. The attention that I get, the whistles, it does get me uncomfortable. But, focus on what you’re doing and don’t pay attention to them. Keeping healthy is necessary, regardless of where you come from, but it could be a bit of a disadvantage to be from a township where there are men who see women as sex objects,” Ndlovu says.


Bernadette Govender

Bernadette Govender. Picture: Darsha Indrajith

“I train on the promenade because my area’s too dangerous. The promenade is well-secured. Previous to that I was training in the grounds in my area, but it’s become very dangerous and it’s not well lit. They [the municipality] should put the flood lights on until 7 or 8 [pm]. It would be much safer,” Govender explains.


Cirkiena Jeppe and Debbie van Wyk

Mother and daughter Cirkiena Jeppe and Debbie van Wyk dressed as “hippies”. Picture: Darsha Indrajith

Jeppe walks around Amanzimtoti and Van Wyk runs in their area. “We’re from Amanzimtoti. From where we are, we do feel safe,” Van Wyk says.

Do you feel safe running on the roads? Are women less safe road running than men? What do you think needs to change? Let us know.