A new sound against crime 


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Join Bands, Not Gangs is a registered non-profit from Cape Town, South Africa (Reg.2018/341617/08) that uses music to bring change to neighbourhoods struggling with gangsterism.  Our slogan is   “A New Sound Against Crime”. 

Besides teaching music lessons to children (gang prevention) and supplying schools and fellow non-profits in at-risk areas with musical instruments to start their own music programs, we also have a special outreach mission to active street gangs (gang intervention). Using music lessons as a way to spend time with gangsters, we have been able to gain access to the heart of some of the gangs.

Over the last few years our relationship with the gangsters has grown so much in terms of trust, that we now find ourselves in the unique position to help some of the young men get out of gangsterism permanently. In essence, we are a crime prevention initiative, using music as our outreach tool.

In addition to our operational side, we want to position ourselves as a supply chain for new and used musical instruments by encouraging the public to partner with us in this endeavour.

Our mission is to find and bring in musical instruments (new and used), which we then can redistribute to underprivileged communities in a systematic way. We won’t run the programs, but identify the leaders in the communities who can run them and then connect them to resources in their own area, like music teachers etc.  We therefore plan to expand our work around partnerships with fellow non-profits and schools in at-risk communities at grassroots level,  ensuring that music programs are sustainably and locally run.

Our Flagship program  is located in Scottsdene, Kraaifontein at “The Blue House” which is at the heart of our work! 

 “Our goal is to bring in and redistribute 1 million instruments to empower the next generation of young South Africans!”

IF YOU HAVE AN INSTRUMENT YOU’D LIKE TO GIVE, feel free to get in touch at!       E-mail:  joinbandsnotgangs@gmail.com

Friends on a mission…

Join Bands, Not Gangs was founded by Berklee College of Music graduate, composer and multi-instrumentalist, Karien de Waal.  After meeting with Flip and Nicholine Botha from Scottsdene in the most miraculous way, they set out to bring music to the community of Scottsdene, Kraaifontein, reaching out to youngsters and gangsters alike!  Their mission is to be peacemakers, using music as a tool.   Through consistent, weekly lessons and the power of friendship, they are slowly but surely winning territory in the hearts of the people.

The core team is made complete by the amazing Reinette Myburgh who handles fundraising and brings years of experience as a certified social counsellor to the mix.  Reinette is equally at home in ground operations as she is in the corporate and business side of things, which makes her the perfect partner in (anti)-crime!

Be faithful in the little and God will be able to trust you with much.

Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just one grain; it never becomes more but lives by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.

Our Vision

1 million instruments for 1 million young musicians.  Peace in the Cape Flats.

Starting Point

Cape Town, South Africa, 2018

Our Mission Field

Schools in at-risk communities, street gangs and grassroots music programs.

Early Achievements


Madiba Wethu

In early 2018, Karien produced the song “Madiba Wethu”, in order to call attention to the NGO. It was launched on the 100th Birthday of the late Mr Nelson Mandela – 18th of July, 2018.

Click here to view “Madiba Wethu” on YouTube.

Creative Collaboration

Some 60 musicians participated in the project, including Loyiso Bala, Elwira Standili, the Berklee Indian Ensemble, the Cape Town Youth Orchestra and the Sekunjalo Delft Big Band. This ignited a spark.


Within 11 days of the song’s launch, Join Bands, Not Gangs received prime-time news coverage on the SABC (South African Broadcasting Corporation). Since then, the team has been inundated with requests to start programs in at-risk communities across South Africa.


Within two months of the song launch, they had received donations of new and second-hand musical instruments worth R60 000. This included guitars, drums, keyboards, an organ, trumpets, percussion and woodwinds.


First School Handover

On 09th October 2018, this first batch of instruments were handed over to Scottsdene High School in the presence of government, business, media and community leaders.

First Gang Program

By middle of October 2018, a second music program was launched with the donation of another batch of instruments, in one of the sub-areas in Scottsdene at a small local church. Here, Karien taught music twice a week with a fellow Non Profit teaching Life Orientation to the young men. 

A second Gang Program, in a rival territory, was launched in February 2019. 

Since then and throughout Covid Lockdown the focus has shifted to building and maintaining friendships with the local gangsters, with or without including music lessons, thereby bringing change through friendship and trust. 

In The News

Key Values and Goals

Crowdsourcing Music Instruments

Through our media campaigns, we crowd-source music instruments from retail stores, business and private donors. We collect, repair where necessary, allocate and distribute them as part of the local music supply chain.

Community Relations

We work closely with the communities we serve in a hands-on, ground up way. We identify the “right” areas to assist via strong relationships with community leaders and youth groups that inform us of the resources they already have (e.g. venues, teachers, talent ) – and the unmet needs they have to start fully fledged youth bands.

Local First

We have planted the first seeds within the community of Scottsdene, in close proximity to us. As part of the larger Kraaifontein area, it ranked 7th in South Africa’s national crime hotspots as per the official police statistics for 2017/2018. While gang violence has consumed the lives of youth over recent years, we help bring a new pathway of hope.

Documentary Evidence

We are documenting our journey from humble beginnings and capturing our story as it grows. By sharing our progress regularly, we also provide accountability to our patrons of the way their instruments and donations are making an impact. We are also excited about meeting and finding the interesting mix of people, stories and places along the way!

Continuous Feedback

We try to update our stakeholders regularly via meetings and social media. Patrons can follow our journey and look out to spot their instruments. Just imagine your “first bright-blue bass guitar” now being played by a prison band member or a future Abe Laborial that got empowered to walk in his or her destiny due to your donation.


We are currently working on an innovative branding, numbering and tracking system by which each instrument will have a serial number and traceable code.

Changed Lives

This is our ultimate goal, to see a reduction in gangsterism, community transformation and greater potential for the future of our youth. And it’s already starting to happen.

Join Bands, Not Gangs is a beautiful initiative. We as the Western Cape Government supports them fully in their effort.


– Mayor of the city of Cape Town, Mr. Dan Plato

Our company has been collaborating with Join Bands not Gangs since August 2018. After seeing them on national television, it was a logical decision to join the movement. I could sense the positive energy straight away. They have a great team. We support Join Bands not Gangs 100%.


– Hans Heuer, Musikhaus W. Heuer, Stellenbosch

Get Involved

7 Ways. 1 Vision.

Donate an instrument directly

The more instruments we receive, the more we can hand out to enrich more lives faster. Plain and simple! Therefore, if you have an instrument no longer in use (but in working order), please consider donating it to us and we will arrange for collection in and beyond Cape Town. No matter where in the world you are, someone is always coming to Cape Town!

Donate via your favourite music store

If you do not have an instrument to donate directly, but would still like to assist us, you are welcome to provide a voucher to your favourite music store. Alternatively, we can send you a list a local music stores to purchase an instrument from and they will hand it over to us on your behalf.

Sponsor a ‘school package’ or ‘gang package’

Having a complete ‘School Package’ of instruments is the most ideal way to start each program. We are reaching out to corporates, government and NGOs to partner with us by sponsoring a complete package or parts thereof. This can include anything from 10-15 instruments. Contact us to find out more.

Cash Donations

You are welcome to make a cash contribution towards a school- or gang package directly with us or via a music store. We will gladly assist you to engage with a musical equipment supplier that will handle your order timeously, cost-effectively and honorably.

Sponsor-a-Gangster Project

Join Bands Not Gangs is in the unique position to engage directly with gangsters on a regular basis.  Because of the subsequent friendships that have grown, we are in the unique position to help those gangsters who want to leave the gang life, get help in the form of overall rehabilitaion.  When someone approaches us for help, we match them to a rehab and then place them into the care of trusted programs, where they can work through their trauma, addiction and bevavioural issues.  So far, we have sent a gangsters to rehabs, and in so doing have given them the opportunity to “start again”.  If you would like to Sponsor a Gangster to attend a rehab, please get in touch and we will send you the details!   The fruits of this particular part of our work is amazing.

Adopt Us as a Corporate Social Investment Programme

Join Bands, Not Gangs is perfectly positioned to partner with organisations seeking to make a visible, lasting and exponential impact. We are a socially responsible partner in the areas of music education, creativity, youth upliftment, leadership and civic empowerment. We believe our work, with corporate and government agency support, will have a lasting impact on our city and future generations.

Come say hello 

If you wanted to come see our little school in action, you are welcome to get in touch and come say hello.

Get In Touch

For general info, comments and questions, please contact us at joinbandsnotgangs@gmail.com

For media bookings, inquiries or donations, please phone Karien via 071 174 2373

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