Message from the Executive Director:  Reflections on the first quarter of 2017









By Nomfundo Mogapi


The first quarter of 2017 has been an incredibly busy time for The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR). We have been working hard to ensure that our work on transitional justice, healing, peacebuilding and violence prevention retains its momentum, expands to new areas and remains innovative.

We have increased our footprint in Africa through our country-specific work and been active in 14 African countries. These are Rwanda, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, DRC, CAR, Mozambique, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Algeria and Egypt as well as Syria.

Our international research work continues to position us as a key player in shaping debates and interventions related to peacebuilding, transitional justice, violence prevention and psychological interventions at an international level.

Another highlight is that we have finalised the adoption of the General Comment on Redress for victims of torture in Africa. This document is a key regional instrument the Centre has been working on.

We have also concluded our comprehensive study on drivers of violence in South Africa. The report provides a typology of different forms of violence the CSVR has focused on over the past 25 years.

Other key achievements from this quarter include:

  • Our work with the Western Cape Khumulani members. This work has helped position members to approach donors to fund violence development projects;
  • Our participation at the 9th AU Gender pre-summit in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
  • The expansion of our clinical work with refugees to the Pretoria office. 

Our community work on supporting victims of torture, refugees and preventing xenophobic violence has now stretched to eight communities. We have in this quarter also introduced in-depth community based healing for torture victims (in Marikana, Ekangala and the inner-city), thus enabling us to reach the most marginalised victims who struggle to access our clinic-based interventions. We also played a critical role in preventing xenophobic violence in Mamelodi and have learnt the importance of responding to early warning signs to contain violent rumblings within communities.

The launch of the #FeesMustFall research report and the seminar on “Innovations in Peacebuilding” presented great opportunities for dialogue and sharing insights around burning issues that need to be addressed. It also allowed us to better understand how people across all economic levels are affected by violence.

I can also report that our clinical team has begun to share their reflections after attending a research seminar on the impact of transgenerational trauma in South Africa on a new blog on the website,

Through their learning we will all better understand how traumas of the past impact our current lives and why it is important to heal from previous traumatic experiences. The clinic also launched its blog, which enables us to share the knowledge that has come from their direct interface with those affected by violence and torture.

We are excited to be sharing our newsletter and to also use the opportunity to raise special awareness of the concerning increase in violence during protest action. This requires attention and accountability from the state and all communities.


This special feature provides access to a number of publications that have been produced as part of a Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation research project on the Community Work Programme (CWP) and its impact on violence and crime prevention.

CWP is a public employment programme intended as a safety net that provides a basic stable income to people who are unemployed or underemployed.

CSVR’s interest in CWP and its potential to prevent violence was motivated by research carried out in 2009 and 2010. This research, part of a study on collective violence conducted by CSVR and the Society, Work and Development Institute (SWOP) at the University of the Witwatersrand, indicated that CWP in Bokfontein in North West Province promoted community resilience against violence.

At that point CWP was still in a pilot phase. Since then CWP has been formally established as a government programme located in the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA). During the 2014-2015 financial year over 202 000 people were involved in the CWP and there are now more than 180 sites at which CWP has been established.

From 2013 to 2015 CSVR conducted research at six CWP sites in Gauteng, the Western Cape and North West. This research was funded by the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the British Department for International Development (DFID) and forms part of the Safe and Inclusive Cities (SAIC) research programme.

The research findings, which were presented at a national policy workshop (co-hosted by COGTA and GIZ), demonstrate the extensive and multi-level contribution that CWP is already making to violence prevention. CWP contributes by addressing underlying causes of violence (through providing income and employment opportunities), addressing immediate causes of violence (through patrols and safety campaigns) and building social cohesion and community capacity to act collectively.

A planned second phase of this project (2016-2018) will explore opportunities to build the capacity of CWP to contribute more effectively and expansively to violence prevention.

Please continue visiting this page to view new publications emerging from this research.

CSVR’s publications on CWP to date:

Bruce, David. 2015. “The Good, the Better and the Best: How the Community Work Programme Can Reach Its Full Potential as an Instrument of Community Development in South Africa,” CWP Policy Brief 1. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Bruce, David. 2015. “Working for Safety: The Community Work Programme as a Tool for Preventing Violence and Building Safer Communities,” CWP Policy Brief 2. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Langa, Malose. 2015. "The Impact of the Community Work Programme on Violence in Orange Farm." Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Langa, Malose. 2015. "A Follow-Up Report on the Community Work Programme in Bokfontein." Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Masuku, Themba. 2015. "A Case Study of the Ivory Park Community Work Programme." Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Mullagee, Fairuz, with David Bruce. 2015. "Building a Good Nation in Manenberg: A Case Study of the Manenberg Community Work Programme." Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Puwana, Zukiswa. 2015. "The Community Work Programme in Grabouw." Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Bruce, David. 2015. “Preventing Crime through Work and Wages: The Impact of the Community Work Programme.” South African Crime Quarterly 52: 25-37.

Langa, Malose, and Themba Masuku. 2015. "The Role of Ex-offenders in Implementing the Community Work Programme as a Crime and Violence Prevention Initiative." African Safety Promotion Journal 13, no. 2: 78-91.

Brankovic, Jasmina. 2016. “Women’s Contribution to Social Cohesion and Violence Prevention through the Community Work Programme." CWP Policy Brief 3. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Masuku, Themba, Malose Langa and David Bruce. 2016. "The Community Work Programme in Kagiso" Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Brankovic, Jasmina. 2016. "Integrating Learning, Monitoring and Evaluation into Policy-Oriented Research: Lessons from CSVR’s Urban Violence Project." Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Langa, Malose, Themba Masuku, David Bruce and Hugo van der Merwe. 2016. "Facilitating or hindering social cohesion? The impact of the Community Work Programme in selected South African townships" South African Crime Quarterly 55: 41-48.

In the context of prison overcrowding, we are concerned that levels of violence in prisons are unacceptably high. Prison gangs are one of the primary vehicles for the perpetration of this violence. Yet little is known about prison violence and how it occurs. Jonny Steinberg conducted research on prison gangs based in Pollsmoor prison resulting in a short book called Nongoloza’s Children and the award winning trade book, The Number.

"Restorative justice grew out of dissatisfaction with the criminal justice system and its limitations in dealing with issues of crime between the victim and the offender in a more restoring and balanced way. South Africa, having inherited the accusative type of justice system, which is based on punishment, struggles to recognise the victim and the community as key role players in the adjudication of conflict between the victim and the offender face to face. Restorative justice provides an opportunity for dealing with issues of crime in a more comprehensive manner." - Tshegofatso Maswabi, Restorative Justice Initiative project manager

The Restorative Justice Initiative (RJI)

The RJI is a consortium of non-governmental organisations seeking alternative ways to raise awareness and develop a realistic, dynamic and unique South African restorative justice paradigm.

The RJI works with organisations that are interested in promoting restorative justice principles and practices.

The RJI is currently hosted at the Restorative Justice Centre.

The RJI aims to feed into the global justice movement through promoting a restorative justice understanding and practice nationally and internationally. It does this by offering services in resources, networking, advocacy, research, and project development, and through partnerships and alliances.

Victim-offender Conferencing Project

The Victim-offender Conferencing (VOC) Project is the RJI's flagship project. The VOC Project is a creative community-based alternative to dealing with human issues of crime. It does this through face-to-face interaction between offenders, their victims, their respective families and to some extent appointed agents. Highly skilled community mediators/facilitators guide the process. The VOC Project mainly deals with family violence and assault cases that the courts and other agencies refer to it. The process allows the community to play a role in bringing peace to itself.
The VOC Project promotes a broad-based three-tier partnership between itself, the government departments of justice, police, correctional services and welfare, and non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations.



  • Dissel, A. (2003). Giving a Face to Crime: Report on the Second Phase of the Restorative Justice Initiative Victim Offender Conference Project. Report of the Restorative Justice Initiative, April.

  • Dissel, A. & Ngubeni, K. (2003). Giving Women their Voice: Domestic Violence and Restorative Justice in South Africa. Paper presented at the XIth International Symposium on Victimology, Stellenbosch, July 2003.

  • Dissel, A. (2000). Restoring the Harmony: A Report on a Victim Offender Conferencing Pilot Project. Report prepared for the Victim Conferencing Project, October.
To find out more about the RJI's work, contact Busi Mokeki at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit our Publications section of this site.

Community Policing was one of key strategies of government post-democracy to bring about its new vision of accountability and transparency. It was also seen as a vehicle for community involvement in crime prevention.

The community police forums have gained recent prominence after the Minister of Safety and Security undertook to re-energise and promote them as key initiates in the fight against crime. From their inception, CSVR played a key role in establishing CPF’s through training and capacity building of police and communities, as well as monitoring the project at a policy level. In the past three years CSVR has been assisting government departments with strategies to implement effective community police approaches.

Some work has been done with the Limpopo Department of Community Safety and Liaison and relevant community structures and organisations in that province.

For more information please contact Themba Masuku at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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