Responses to protest must address people’s experience of powerlessness
(Media Articles)


Responses to protest must address people’s experience of powerlessness” - Written by Malose Langa and David Bruce on 18 May 2017.


Thursday, 18 May 2017
More than gangsterism, structural violence is the issue
(Media Articles)

Jasmina BrankovicAnnouncing that President Zuma would not deploy the army to intervene in Cape Flats gang wars, his spokesman Mac Maharaj noted that the president “has directed ministers in the social and economic sectors to study the situation and look for long-term solutions that promote sustainable development and stable communities.” The president should be held to this commitment to look beyond short-term responses to gang violence and identify policy solutions that address the poverty and inequality that drive everyday violence in poor urban areas. As part of a study on the relationship of violence and transition, I looked at how a group of young men under 23 in Gugulethu and Mfuleni describe their experiences of and participation in the violence in their areas. These life stories show that both members of informal neighbourhood gangs and young men who have never joined a gang are exposed to violence every day, especially beatings and stabbings by other young men from rival informal gangs or different neighbourhoods who nonetheless know each other. The young men talk about participation in violence as almost unavoidable and link it to their sense of self, to being socially visible in the neighbourhood and to rites of passage associated with becoming an adult man. The stories suggest that these young men have been turned inward on their neighbourhoods since boyhood, rarely leaving them and disconnected from the rest of the city. One young man says he has not left Gugulethu in the past three years while another speaks about the centre of Cape Town as a separate city. While neighbourhood life offers comfort and a sense of belonging, it also opens the young men to physical violence from other young men as well as neighbours and police suspicious of their lifestyles. Spending days on the corner, young men serve as role models to boys who grow up watching them, including as they daily engage in serious violence. The stories indicate that this dynamic has been reproduced from generation to generation of young men since well before the transition to democracy. A central root of this violence is the historical and ongoing exclusion of people living in poor urban areas from the country’s mainstream economic life. The geographical marginalisation, inadequate education and limited skills and employment opportunities institutionalised under apartheid continue almost 20 years after the transition. Indeed, they are entrenched by current economic policies that sideline people with low education levels and skills in seeking to generate high-paying and high-productivity jobs in capital- and skills-intensive industries.Research shows that constraints on a family’s education and acquisition of skills, combined with living far from urban economic centres in areas with limited public services as well as having social networks with similar constraints, not only undermine their chances of finding work but also negatively affect their children’s life opportunities. Many parents are forced to work in the informal sector, without the protections of predictable hours and personal leave usually offered by formal employment, which, along with poor access to more structured activities, contributes to boys and young men in particular spending days in the neighbourhood with little oversight, watching and often modelling violent behaviour. The past and present socioeconomic exclusion that fosters poverty and inequality is therefore intimately linked to everyday physical violence among the young men, whether gangster or not. The international and local literature supports the connection between violence and poverty and inequality that has emerged from the young men’s stories. While this calls for more discussion in South Africa, where inequality has only increased since the transition and violence levels remain both high and a point of widespread public interest, the stories call for going a step further and identifying the poverty and inequality as violence in itself. The concept of “structural violence” is useful in this regard because it describes the institutionalisation and legitimisation of power inequalities while also highlighting this institutionalisation as violence. Structural violence is so normalised that it is usually accepted as a fact of life but it is perpetrated by individuals and institutions at all levels of society. Government, however, has a particular responsibility to address its role in institutionalising structural violence through its policies, especially economic policies. The term “structural violence” provides civil society actors working for socioeconomic transformation on one hand and a more peaceful society on the other – from social movements to NGOs – with a common ground and an advocacy tool for provoking more public discussion on poverty and inequality and for pushing government to develop a deeper and long-term strategy for addressing this cause and form of violence.

Jasmina Brankovic, “Op-Ed: In Some Places It Is Almost Impossible Not to Get Caught Up in the Violence,” Cape Times, 28 August 2012.Brankovic is a researcher on the Violence and Transition project, run by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation and the Centre for Humanities Research, University of the Western Cape.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013
'Shoot to kill' bill on agenda in parliament (24.8.2011)
(Media Articles)


Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa's "shoot to kill" bill will come under fire in parliament today.

Objectors will tell a parliamentary committee that it could encourage police officers to "shoot first and ask questions later".

Seeking to give "clarity" about when police can shoot, the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill gives broader powers to officers in the use of deadly force.

The amendment, requested by the police minister and supported by President Jacob Zuma, allegedly removes the concept of "imminent and future danger" from the law - allowing police to shoot fleeing people based on their suspected past actions.

But a stream of submissions to the justice portfolio committee, which will hold a hearing today, say the wording might lead to abuse, increase the number of people shot dead by police, and even put police officers at risk.

Last year, 524 people died in police action, up from 282 in 2005/2006, including 16 bystanders, according to the Independent Complaints Directorate.

In submissions seen by The Times:

The Law Society says the amendment would lead to a violation of human rights; Lawyers for Human Rights says the bill "has removed the immediacy of the threat required" for police to use deadly force. "The arrester can now use force in circumstances that are not urgent"; The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation warns the bill will "lead to excessive use of deadly force" and complains that it empowers "arresters" rather than a more limited number of professional "peace officers"; The Institute for Security Studies says the bill "may encourage untrained citizens to place themselves and others at unnecessary risk by allowing them to decide to use deadly force to arrest a dangerous individual".

The institute points out there is no correlation between reductions in violent crime and the use of deadly force by the police; and

The African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum agrees with the minister that the old law was "ambiguous", but argues the new one might allow police to shoot a suspect "without the requirement that the suspect poses a threat of serious bodily harm to the arrester or anyone".

It complains that the new rule is dangerously "pinned" to suspects resisting or fleeing arrest.

In an earlier statement to parliament, the Department of Justice defended the bill as "providing greater legal certainty to arresters", and bringing the law in line with a ruling by the Constitutional Court in 1998.

The department said the SA Police Service wanted the amendment partly because a policeman chasing a known violent offender "runs the risk of the suspect turning around and firing at the police officer".

Times Live

Thursday, 25 August 2011
MPs investigate deadly force amendment (24.8.2011)
(Media Articles)

Cape Town - Draft legislation seeking to change the circumstances in which police officers may use deadly force came under the scrutiny of MPs on Wednesday.Members of Parliament's justice portfolio committee are examining the criminal procedure amendment bill, drawn up following a request by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa to change Section 49 of the principal act.Section 49 regulates the use of force during the arrest of a suspect in a criminal matter. The committee has called for submissions on the measure.According to the minister, the amendment is necessary to bring the legislation in line with a Constitutional Court judgment in the Walters’ case.The judgement refers to the use of force during an arrest. The court had ruled that the shooting of a suspect to carry out an arrest was permitted in very limited circumstances.Speaking during his submission on Wednesday, constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos told the committee the amendment was not necessary."What is required is not an amendment of the law. Something far more difficult is required: more sustained training of the police to interpret this [legislation]... And that is really the heart of the matter."Responding to questions on the proposed amendment to the act, he said it was not a limitation but actually an extension of the powers provided to the police."To the extent it extends the power of the police in both defending themselves and in using deadly force in arresting somebody, it goes beyond what the Walters’ judgment actually says is permissible," he said.‘Violation of human rights’The justice department has defended the bill, saying it will provide "greater legal certainty to arresters".In a statement earlier this year, it said the police wanted the amendment partly because a police officer chasing a known violent offender "runs the risk of the suspect turning around and firing at the police officer".According to the Independent Complaints Directorate, 524 people died in police action last year, up from 282 in 2005/2006.Among organisations set to make a submission to the committee are the Law Society, Lawyers for Human Rights, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, and the Institute for Security Studies.They are largely opposed to the measure, with the Law Society reported as saying the measure, if adopted, would lead to a violation of human rights.At the time Cabinet approved the bill, in September last year, it said the measure "strives to provide greater legal certainty to arresters regarding circumstances under which force may be applied when attempting to effect an arrest, and the nature of the force that may lawfully be used in the process".The proposed legislation will authorise the police to shoot if the suspect in question is suspected, on reasonable grounds, of having previously threatened or caused serious bodily harm to someone.The committee has received 18 submissions.

News 24

Thursday, 25 August 2011
The trouble with living in a police state... (19.8.2011)
(Media Articles)

Gareth Stokes

South Africa is not a police state, yet. But in recent months we’ve witnessed some alarming developments. It started with the re-militarisation of police ranks and the immediate transition of our National Police Commissioner into a General… Why the change? The decision certainly undid much of the progress made in changing the country’s police “force” into a police “service”. Perhaps “General” holds more weight in a continent where those who control the guns usually outlast those who don’t. Whatever the case… Since General Bheki Cele’s metamorphosis he has issued the “shoot to kill” instruction on numerous occasions. He attends as many funerals of his fallen comrades as he possibly can and has made sure that the media spotlight falls on the number of police killed in action in South Africa each year.

It seems as if the General is using police deaths to motivate – or even justify – his “shoot now ask questions later” policing technique. But his claims of an all out war against the police are misleading. Carte Blanche – an investigative television show – reports that the scourge of police officers being killed has decreased dramatically since 1994: “In 1994, 265 police officers were killed, according to the South African Institute for Race Relations figures. In 2000, this number dropped to 178, and in 2010 it had fallen to 93, according to police statistics.” And at 2 August 2011 the Sowetan reports 57 police deaths year-to-date, suggesting the declining trend will continue.

The innocent victims of “shoot to kill” policing

The “shoot to kill” stance is wrong on a number of levels. First – it elevates the life of a police officer above the life of an ordinary citizen. The number of South Africans murdered year-to-date August is well above the 57 brave police officers who gave their lives… Why should the General not shed tears for victims of crimes? And second – it leads to excessive force. A dangerous nonchalance develops when you interact with the public from a position of ultimate power. Instead of tackling each situation on its merits police have been goaded into striding forward, guns loaded (or blazing) without a care for citizens’ rights. Cases of police brutality – although dismissed by Cele as isolated – are mounting.

Andries Tatane lost his life – allegedly at the hands of the police – during protests in Ficksburg on 13 April 2011. And on April 26 Janet Odendaal was shot dead, allegedly by a police sergeant, after she crashed into a police van outside the Kempton Park police station. If these were indeed isolated events, then the Independent Complaints Directorate (IDC) wouldn’t be saying that “killings by police in shooting incidents have escalated dramatically in recent years!” Their statistics confirm that such incidents have reached their highest levels since 1997. Under the heading “persons shot dead by police” the IDC reports 282 deaths in the 2005/6 year growing to 568 deaths in 2008/9 and 524 deaths the year after. A total of 65 innocent bystanders have been shot by police over the past five years.

In a Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) submission to The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Development regarding the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill, 39 of 2010 the CSVR concludes: “These figures, together with figures on complaints of serious non-fatal violence by police, which according to ICD statistics have increased dramatically in recent years, suggest strongly that there is a problem of the control of the use of deadly force by police in South Africa and that the SAPS is currently not exercising proper control over the use of lethal and other force by its members!” They are hard at work to prevent changes to the bill which would enable police officers to use more “lethal force”.

He who laughs last...

South Africa isn’t the only country struggling with law and order issues. Large scale rioting and looting in isolated areas in the UK drew many glib comments from local commentators. A closer look at the goings on during the riots and handling of events thereafter, shows marked differences between policing in the UK and back home. South Africa’s riot police – and we’re not talking here about ordinary officers who typically stand by while rioters trash our streets – tend to be fairly confrontational. They fire rubber bullets, teargas and other anti crowd rounds with gay abandon. Contrast this with comments from a UK policeman (posted on an online chat site): “Why the hell would I fire an AEP round (baton gun) in a riot situation? If it goes even slightly wrong and somebody is killed (and it will happen – that 41mm piece of hard plastic can kill you easily) then I will receive no support from the media, politicians, senior police officers or ill-informed members of the public!” Members of the UK police service have a greater appreciation of the consequences of their action – and show more restraint because of this.

Once the UK enforcement agencies got a handle on the situation they swung into action quickly and efficiently. Within hours of the unrest – the morning after – the Nottinghamshire Police said 84 people have been arrested, Merseyside Police (Liverpool) arrested 50 people for public disorder, and nine were arrested in Gloucester. Another 15 arrests were made by the Thames Valley Police along with 768 arrests and 105 charges laid by the Metropolitan Police! And they brought in 10, 000 extra police officers to avoid further violence.

In the immediate aftermath of the unrest UK prisons were full – with courts operating 24-hours to process the larger case load. We’ve spent some time in the UK and we’re pretty sure most of the perpetrators will get off with little more than a scolding… But aside from this leniency, that’s what swift justice should look like! And that’s the kind of response we’d like to see from local police… Trouble makers rounded up – without a shot being fired – and having their day in court almost immediately!

Editor’s thoughts: Any death among members of South Africa’s police services is one too many. But fighting fire with fire isn’t always the answer. By encouraging a cavalier “shoot to kill” attitude General Cele is creating conditions that are conducive to more rather than less deaths. Do you think the SAPS can do its job without a “shoot to kill” mandate? Add your comment below, or send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FA News

Monday, 22 August 2011
'Disappointed’ at no magic wand to wave away crime (15.11.10)
(Media Articles)

MEMBERS of Parliament’s police committee, the new Deputy Minister of Police Maggie Sotyu and police secretariat officials pronounced themselves disappointed this week when the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation’s report on why crime in South Africa is so violent was released.

They clearly all wanted a magic wand from the academics – David Bruce and Adele Kirsten – who compiled the study, and there wasn’t one. Indeed, after a particularly robust engagement, Bruce told the committee that worldwide there had been many studies done on violent crime and no one had yet come up with an answer.

Committee chairman Sindi Chikunga and Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald wanted to know why crime in South Africa was so often accompanied by hideous cruelty. They said the study had failed to find an explanation as to why victims of crime are so often tortured.Indeed, this is a good question. The study reported that the history of structural violence inherent in the way in which colonialism and apartheid worked lay at the heart of the matter.

I suppose the idea is that if you are the victim of institutional violence simply because of your race then it legitimises violence on a personal level.Also, people would have observed brutal state action from police and other departments where there were no consequences. In short, impunity.Also connected to violent crime in the study were things like poverty, education, the destruction of family structures through the migrant labour system and, curiously, the abuse of alcohol by young mothers – often accompanied by domestic violence. Still further reinforcement.

While accepting the bona fides of the research done, it would be nice if the further research which the CSVR said was ongoing could provide answers to some of the questions. For example, there are places in the world where there is far more poverty than in South Africa but where there is less violent crime.It would also be interesting to find out what role is played by the fact that South Africa negotiated its revolution rather than fighting to the end. Is there a sort of feeling that violence is justified because there were no real winners and losers in the revolution?

There were some startling findings which should sound some alarm bells, one being that more than a third of the perpetrators of violent crime are 19 years and younger. That is truly scary and it points to problems with education and socialisation.

Having said all that, the criticism of the report does seem to be unfair. It is an astonishing piece of work and really does serve the vital function of bringing together what we know about violent crime in the country and putting it in an accessible form in one place.

There have also been complaints that R3.5- million of public money was spent and not much achieved. Also unfair. Anything that contributes to a better understanding of where we are and why we behave as we do is worth every cent.

In The Herald

Monday, 15 November 2010
'Gender machinery' in disarray (25.11.09)
(Media Articles)

Johannesburg - South Africa's "gender machinery" is in "disarray" with it not even being clear who is co-ordinating the 16 Days of Activism campaign, a group of NGOs said on Wednesday.

"At a time when it is most needed, participants noted, the national gender machinery is in disarray," read a statement from Gender Links and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR).

"There is a lack of clarity on which agency is driving the 16 Days of Activism campaign, which used to be housed in the department of local government, following the establishment of the ministry of women, children and disability in April this year.

"The ministry has yet to hold a consultation with civil society organisations. There has also been a deafening silence on the status of the 365 National Action Plan to End Gender Violence adopted in March 2007 and co-ordinated by the National Prosecution Authority (NPA)."

They said there is also still no specific "domestic violence" category which would enable monitoring of the crime. They called on the government to resuscitate the 365 Day National Action Plan to End Gender Violence.

'We can prevent violence'

Their statement followed a three-day symposium convened by the CSVR under the banner "We can Prevent Violence". They also called for the establishment of a special fund to end gender violence, in line with regional and international commitments.

In addition they called on Fifa to use the World Cup 2010 to send out strong messages in support of the campaign to end gender violence as well as HIV/Aids.

They said the 12% increase in reported rape cases to 71 500 from April 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009 may in part be due to the expanded definition of rape under the new act. The figures are unacceptably high and likely to be understated due to under reporting.

Government was also still "well behind" in reaching the target of 81 one-stop centres for addressing gender violence by 2010 provided for in the National Sexual Assault Policy.

The 16-Days campaign takes place every year from November 25, the International Day of No Violence Against Women.

It runs until December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.


In News24.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009
'Constitution threatened by populism' (14.11.08)
(Media Articles)

Christelle Terreblanche

Is he an astute politician who speaks to ordinary people's concerns, or a dangerous populist who may be undermining the Constitution? Jacob Zuma's controversial remarks on the pre-election campaign trail that has taken him around the country have left in their wake a number of questions - and while his comments may have hit the right spot with his audiences, constitutional experts and gender rights activists are not amused. The ANC president told a rally in the Western Cape last weekend that truant learners and pregnant teenagers "should be caught and sent to faraway boarding schools by force until they get degrees".

He accused teenaged mothers of abusing the government's child grant and talked about "a war on street kids". He also repeated previous remarks, including one that crime suspects enjoy too many privileges. But since he sensationally pronounced last year that he was willing to reconsider the death penalty, there has been little indication of how he wants to get this past the country's progressive human rights Constitution. The man is certainly playing to his audiences across South Africa's deep social divides. His allegorical, vernacular rally style contrasts sharply with his measured and reasonable utterances last week at the Cape Town Press Club, where his audience was a world apart from the mostly poverty-stricken people who turn up at rallies. Constitutional and human rights experts believe Zuma's campaign approach to be "dangerous" and "populist", one that's testing the limits of the country's Constitution. Some are incensed by Zuma's suggestion that teenaged mothers should be separated from their babies. "There is a complete lack of acknowledgement of the responsibility of the father in any of this. Teenage girls are a nice, easy cheap target and it plays to a conservative populism to bash teenage girls," is the verdict of Lisa Vetten, senior researcher at the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women. "Frankly, for the ANC Youth League to have not said anything about this either, just goes to show how much they care about the difficulties that face adolescent girls. Why girls fall pregnant is a lot more complicated than we think." Two legal commentators say they believe aspects of Zuma's statements may be in conflict with the country's Constitution. University of the Western Cape constitutional expert, Professor Pierre de Vos, says if Zuma indeed meant that women should be forcibly sent away for education, he was making them into "criminals" when they were not accused before the law - "even more grave if it is directed at pregnant women". "It is obviously preposterous, because you once again make women the scapegoats and the men (who made them pregnant) get away scot-free. It is the old patriarchal approach," said De Vos. While acknowledging that the scope of teenage pregnancies was a shame to society, Unisa's Professor Shadrack Gutto said the ANC president's solution was not necessarily "child friendly", did not address the root causes of the problem and "from a constitutional legal perspective (was) very problematic". "As a safeguard you should build in the question of development of children," suggests Gutto. "In legal terms, the interests of the child (babies) come first, and critical to that is the interests of the child, for instance, in breastfeeding. "We know breastfeeding is universally acknowledged to be better for the child than other forms of feeding (although) other forms are not necessarily bad for the child." He said in this context, the statement "could violate the constitutional principle of protecting the rights of children" even before considering the interests of the mother. From the child's point of view "the statements are unfortunate and in many ways opposite to the principles of law". "We need proper reflection really on this issue - which is a populist statement not properly thought through," he suggested. But ANC national spokesperson Carl Niehaus believes Zuma has been misunderstood. The comments - often mistranslated - are derived from listening to communities where the problem of teenage pregnancies "means that mothers and grannies then have to look after the children of their children" and teenage mothers are stigmatised. Niehaus said Zuma was merely raising real concerns in communities that beg for a response from the government. He said that when teenagers leave a community to give birth, they are seldom welcomed back "because there is a kind of social sanction". "It is first of all not an attitude to let men walk off scot-free. It is important that young men are also kept responsible. The suggestion is not at all to withdraw the children by force, but where possible for them to be taken into a new community where they will be able to grow with the children," he explained. On the ANC president's statements that the rights of criminals should be curtailed, experts argue that this will not solve the underlying problem of weak judicial and police systems that result in offenders walking free. But what it does do is infringe on people's constitutional rights. The constitutional legal basic rights of all persons have limitations, stresses Gutto. "But then to be saying criminals should not have rights, really the ANC president is speaking in a language (that) I think is contrary to our Constitution and the principles of the right to freedom of movement and the rights of expression and freedom of association, which will be severely limited." Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation's senior researcher David Bruce says that while there's evidence that a control-orientated approach to criminal justice is likely to convict more criminals, it also comes at the cost of convicting higher numbers of people who are innocent. Bruce warns that a human rights approach, however, depends on a criminal justice system which is staffed by people who are highly skilled and knowledgeable. South Africa has been struggling to get this right, but all efforts must be exhausted before we start intruding on human rights, he stressed. "Incarceration is a process which brutalises people. We are living in a country that is already severely brutalised. So we need to be very wary of it," he said. De Vos says it's a "typical politician's quick-fix" answer to complex problems in our deeply unequal society. But Niehaus stressed that Zuma had been trying to respond to communities' serious battles against crime and to encourage discussion about whether this could be dealt with "in a tougher way without transgressing the Constitution". Gutto also acknowledges the flip-side - that South Africa offers little for victims of crime. "If you put all those together, you can see where the sentiment is coming from - but the ANC president should not be speaking so loosely." Niehaus denied Zuma was being populist. "It is more about being sensitive to the issues being raised in townships and rural communities where things are really difficult. "These are really issues that I think he is quite right to raise," he stressed.

This article was originally published on page 17 of Cape Argus on November 14, 2008
Friday, 14 November 2008
'No need for court action on shelters' (04.08.08)
(Media Articles)

There was no need for court action to force the Gauteng provincial government to keep open temporary safe sites for refugees and asylum seekers until they were reintegrated into communities, spokesperson Thabo Masebe said on Monday. He was reacting to the announcement that the Wits Law Clinic and Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) were bringing an urgent application in the Pretoria High Court. They want the government ordered to communicate and implement a reintegration strategy which protects the rights of all, and to restore and not dismantle the Rifle Range temporary safe site until the reintegration strategy is in place.

"I don't know really what these people are looking for," said Masebe. There was no need for them to take court action, he said. "All they had to do was come to us." More than 62 people died, hundreds were injured and tens of thousands displaced in a wave of xenophobic attacks which started in Alexandra, Johannesburg on May 12 and spread to the rest of the country. The displaced have been housed in temporary shelters set up throughout the province since then. "All the shelters are still open, including the Rifle Range shelter," said Masebe. However, he explained that when people left any of the shelters any excess tents were folded up. Of about 1 700 refugees and asylum seekers at the Rifle Range camp at the height of the crisis, only 250 remained, he said. The rest had left after refusing to accept temporary identity cards from the Department of Home Affairs or finding alternative accommodation in their communities. Elsewhere in the province, there were still about 3 000 occupants of the safe shelters. "It's going down because people are leaving every day," he said, adding that 10 families left the Rand Airport camp on Friday alone. The government's key role had been to create conditions in all communities - starting with those where there was violence - for people to return to their homes, Masebe said. "They should be safe to do so. They should not fear that somebody will attack them again," he said. This had involved talking to the communities, which the provincial government had started in May. "It's not something that starts and stops. It starts and continues," he said. "I don't know what plan they are looking for." Civil society organisations have come out in support of the court action. While the need for legal action was regrettable, it was needed in the absence of the government's formal communication on a reintegration strategy, said the Reintegration Working Group. The group includes representatives of, among others: the Anglican Diocese of Johannesburg; the Somali Community Board; the Refugee Ministries Centre; the Coalition Against Xenophobia; His People Church; the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation; Mthwakazi Arts and Culture; and the Salvation Army. Masebe said the various groups could assist the government as political organisations and community organisations had done from the start. "That process goes on." In addition, the provincial government was talking to displaced people still at the shelters and who could not reintegrate on their own to find out what kind of help they needed. This included assistance with the building of shacks destroyed in the violence - in Ekurhuleni, communities were already helping in rebuilding efforts - or finding alternative accommodation. "There is no way as government, there is no way we are going to keep the shelters on a permanent basis.". The government did not want to create as permanent, separate settlements for foreign nationals, he said, adding that the government would oppose the court action. "It is not properly informed." - Sapa

In the Independent Online

Monday, 04 August 2008
'Crime will rise if Scorpions get canned'
(Media Articles)
Boyd Webb

Police corruption is likely to skyrocket if the Scorpions are closed down, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) stated in a submission to parliament. "The SAPS is already riddled with corruption and is very bad at addressing the issue," CSVR senior researcher David Bruce argued. He said that corruption within the service could only be properly addressed if investigating units, with the "investigative sophistication" of the Scorpions, were allowed to remain independent of the police. The CSVR submission is but one of many which the chairperson of the National Assembly's Safety and Security Committee, Maggie Sotyu, expects to be waiting for her when she return to parliament next Tuesday.

The public has until Monday to make submissions concerning their views on whether the Directorate of Special Operations (Scorpions) should be closed and merged into the SAPS as called for by ANC resolutions passed at its December conference. The CSVR said that while it recognised that there were problems with the way the Scorpions were managed - as highlighted in the Khampepe Commission's report - these should be addressed without dissolving the unit. Closing the unit would do nothing to reduce the risk of the state abusing its power in the future by using similar units for its own political gain, the CSVR argued. "Creating a single agency with a monopoly of investigative powers is more likely to accentuate the problem," the CSVR said. Groups within the ANC along with the ANC's alliance partners have accused President Thabo Mbeki of using the Scorpions to carry out his political agenda against ANC leader Jacob Zuma. Meanwhile the Centre For Constitutional Rights (CFCR) on Wednesday described cabinet's decision to close the Scorpions as "irrational and arbitrary". It added it had a duty to draw attention to "conduct inconsistent with the constitution".

This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on July 24, 2008
Thursday, 24 July 2008
'Anti-Scorpions Bill not in public interest'
(Media Articles)
MPs should vote against the current measure before Parliament intended to dissolve the Scorpions, the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation said on Wednesday. "... the bills are not in the public interest and should be opposed by members of parliament," the organisation said in its submission to Parliament on the measure. Bringing the Scorpions under the command of the SAPS would expose the investigative unit to political manipulation, corruption and under-performance. "We believe that the envisaged dissolution of the Scorpions will... compound alleged existing weaknesses of the criminal justice system," the centre said. -Sapa In The Star, 23 July 2008
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
'SA cops still use torture'
(Media Articles)

Brian Indrelunas The government should meet its "international obligation" to criminalise torture, says SA Human Rights commissioner Leon Wessels. He called explicitly outlawing torture "an international obligation" after speaking to representatives of non-profit groups and government departments at a seminar. "We can't just subscribe to the international rhetoric (without) ensuring that torture becomes a statutory crime," he commented. The Constitution lists the right not to be tortured and police policies refer to torture specifically, but "all other policy is devoid of the language", said Lukas Muntingh of the Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative. CSPRI and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) hosted on Tuesday's seminar, which explored civil society's role in preventing torture.

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Published on

Wednesday, 02 April 2008
How others have done it: A desk study of community projects related to torture, Appendix C

Bantjes, Megan. 2011. How others have done it: A desk study of community projects related to torture, Appendix C. Johannesburg: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.With the aim of informing CSVR's development of a community work model to address torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, this desk study examines six community projects conducted in South Africa and in other countries. Details of four of the interventions were found in the literature and information about two projects was gathered in interviews with the staff involved. Each intervention is discussed in terms of six questions that have been found useful for thinking about community work (see Questions about community work, Appendix B). The objectives of CSVR’s community work on torture - transformation, prevention and amelioration - provide the framework for considering the implications of each of these projects for CSVR's development of a model.

Monday, 16 December 2013
Developing a use of force policy for the South African Police Service : Workshop Report

Workshop report 2011. Developing a use of force policy for the South African Police Service.  Emoyeni Conference Centre, Johannesburg, 21 - 22 July 2011.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Beyond Section 49: Control of the use of lethal force

Bruce, David.  2011. Beyond section 49: Control of the use of force. SA Crime Quarterly 36.  Institutue for Security Studies. (1.2MB)

Monday, 08 August 2011
Police and the use of force in South Africa: Time for a new approach

Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Institute for Security Studies and African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum  ‘Police and the use of force in South Africa: Time for a new approach, July 2011 (brochure).


For printing or reading online the brochure may also be downloaded as an 8 page document here.


Copies of the brochure may be obtained from Maimuna Suliman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Wednesday, 06 July 2011
An Acceptable Price to Pay. The use of lethal force by police in South Africa.
Bruce, D. (2010). An Acceptable Price to Pay. The use of lethal force by police in South Africa. Open Society Foundation for South Africa. (pdf 592Kb)
Thursday, 05 August 2010
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