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Press Release - International Day Of Peace
(Media Articles)

 

Press Release

September 20, 2017

Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation observes International Day of Peace

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) is joining citizens and organisations globally to observe International Day of Peace on September 21 with a call to renew efforts for peacebuilding.

The theme for International Day of Peace 2017, on Thursday September 21, is Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All by the United Nations.

CSVR aims to use its expertise in building reconciliation, democracy and a human rights culture and in preventing violence in South Africa and other countries in Africa.

“Our work toward achieving sustainable peace can be seen through the Innovations in Peacebuilding Initiative,” said Masana Ndinga-Kanga, research manager at CSVR.

The two-year research, dialogue and policy project explores innovative ways in which international organisations, donors, governments and local non-governmental organisations conduct activities aimed at conflict prevention and management, peacebuilding and reconciliation.

Over the past year, CSVR has hosted peacebuilding workshops in partnership with the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) in Norway, and the Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative (NPI).

“The workshops are aimed at understanding how peace is built in local communities and around particular key community priorities. How civil society uses international norms helps us understand links between what happens in these local spaces and the global agenda promoted by the UN and international community,” she said.  “International Peace needs to be built through and experiences as local peace.” 

Case studies of local peacebuilding include Khayelitsha and conflicts over the right to sanitation, #FeesMustFall and the right to decolonised higher education, the Community Works Programme and the right to work, the right to reparations for victims of apartheid and women’s rights in democratic South Africa.

Other programmes run by CSVR are:

Community Intervention Programme – through the programme, CSVR is able to directly engage with people affected by violence and conflict. Clinical Intervention – which offers psychosocial counselling support to survivors of violence and conflict, who are willing to engage in the counselling process. Advocacy – which was established to influence policy and institutional development at local, national, regional and international levels. Research –  which studies, analyses and generates knowledge on violence and conflict. Learning and Knowledge Management – which allows the organisation to constantly learn from its work and share knowledge with its partners and the public.

After a series of practitioner workshops in South African, researchers from the project will now be sharing lessons from these processes with peacebuilders and policy makers in New York and Oslo.

Read CSVR publications on http://www.csvr.org.za/publications/latest-publications

Issued by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Ends/

For more information and interviews, contact:

Boitumelo Molusi

Tel: +27 11 888 0140

Cell: +27 79 713 5953

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Thursday, 21 September 2017
Industry experts converge at peacebuilding seminar
(Media Articles)

 

Industry experts converge at peacebuilding seminar

 

Leading researchers, practitioners, and policymakers working in post-conflict peacebuilding, met in South Africa under the auspices of the University of Denver, the Chr. Michelsen Institute, the Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative, and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) to discuss new strategies for working in conflict areas.

Collectively representative partners from the global South took into consideration the nature and dynamics that underpin international human rights frameworks and their effect on preventing or exacerbating tensions at the local government level in these regions. 

The project, which targeted at a number of international bodies like the United Nations, highlights that local actors often adapt or reject international norms in the face of unresponsive local governments – because these norms are seen to be too vague and impractical to the needs of local communities.

CSVR Research Manager Masana Ndinga-Kanga says the project will also look at various local case studies for South Africa: “These case studies show that while international norms have been incorporated into the South African legal and policy framework, work still needs to be done around localization and delivering socioeconomic and political rights.”

The failures at the local government level, says Ndinga-Kanga, further contribute to undermining sustainable peace in South Africa because the legal framework, such as the constitution, provide for certain rights but implementation in an unequal and sometimes problematic manner contribute to frustration in communities.

The five local case studies include:

Khayelitsha and the sanitation wars over the right to sanitation, #FeesMustFall and the right to decolonized higher education, the Community Works Program and the right to work, the right to reparations for victims of apartheid and women’s rights in democratic South Africa.

The “Innovations in Peacebuilding" workshop in March also aimed to share and draw lessons learned on rights-based peacebuilding in conflict-affected countries with other studies from the Americas, Asia, Kenya and Rwanda. It also aims to understand how international norms can work better for sustainable peace given what emerges on how local actors adopt, adapt or reject international norms.

Speakers included Timothy Sisk, Professor of International and Comparative Politics (Denver University); Peter Kagwanja, Kenyan intellectual and expert on security, governance and strategic issues (Africa Policy Institute); Lizwe Jamela, Human Rights Lawyer (Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights); Astri Suhrke, Senior Researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (Norway); Kudzai Makombe,  Deputy Director of the Bilateral Programmes and Partner Relations (Southern Africa); and Hugo van der Merwe, Director of Research (CSVR).

 

To see a short video with highlights from the Innovations in Peacebuilding seminar, see below:

 

 

 

 

“Innovations in Peacebuilding” is a two-year research, dialogue, and policy project that explores innovative ways in which international organizations, donors, governments, and local non-governmental organizations conduct activities aimed at conflict prevention and management, peacebuilding and reconciliation.

Thursday, 15 June 2017
CSVR calls on SA to honour Rwanda Genocide victims through a commitment to peacebuilding
(Media Articles)

CSVR calls on SA to honour Rwanda Genocide victims  through a commitment to peacebuildingPRESS STATEMENT  |  APRIL 7, 2017

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) calls on South Africans to commemorate the 23rd Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide with a renewed commitment to peaceful political engagement, as well as a commitment to the human rights of all who live in South Africa.

CSVR’s work on transitional justice and trauma intervention has long identified the devastating and long-term consequences of political conflict, mass violence and state repression on post conflict societies. The experience of Rwanda reverberates with South Africans because of the commonalities in the challenges faced in reconstructing a country after mass violations, and the emergence of peace in the same historic year of 1994.

The 1994 Rwanda genocide left hundreds of thousands dead and many others in exile in neighbouring countries.  In three months - from April to July 1994 - nearly a million Tutsis and sympathetic Hutus were massacred. Systematic rape was also used as a tool of genocide by the state. We must honour the memory of those who died and the survivors of these atrocities by learning from these events. We must be mindful of not walking the same path. We must also learn from the challenges faced by such a nation when dealing with this legacy.

 

In our intervention work and research with survivors of torture and state repression, CSVR has heard first-hand reports of the trauma of the Rwandan genocide. These stories affect us very directly as South Africans. We urge South Africans to recognise that we too must come to terms with our past and acknowledge the very stark legacy of our apartheid history and also recognise the hidden impact of suppressed trauma from our centuries of conflict and exploitation. Not addressing these directly will only feed the unresolved anger and mistrust that fuels our violent interpersonal and political conflicts.

We must ensure that those who were victims of violence are able to speak out, have their pain recognised and their healing supported. We must also ensure that the underlying causes of these conflicts are seriously and urgently addressed, and not left to fuel continued cycles of violence.

Last week, CSVR brought together leading local, continental and international experts working on innovations in peacebuilding to discuss new strategies for working in deeply divided societies. A key lesson we learned is that while international human rights norms have been incorporated into the South African legal and policy framework, effective solutions are only found when local activists are able to draw strength from these new tools to craft interventions, policies and initiatives that directly address their communities’ immediate livelihood needs. South Africa provides many inspiring examples of such innovation, and these present a critical safeguard against future violence and repression.

It is critical that we now place this acknowledgement of our legacy, its unresolved roots and emotional scars, and the recognition of the role played by local peacebuilding innovation in healing and protecting our society on the national agenda.

 

Monday, 10 April 2017
Cabinet Reshuffle Raises Concerns about Increased Conflict and Violence
(Media Articles)

Press Release

Cabinet Reshuffle Raises Concerns about Increased Conflict and Violence

31 March 2017

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) views the new appointments to the South African cabinet as deeply concerning because of its implications for deepening social divides and threatening stability in our country. This is a turning point for our country, one that calls on all South Africans to again speak out collectively in the name of the common cause – defending the democratic gains of our liberation.

The new cabinet appointments made by President Jacob Zuma on 30 March have raised red flags regarding the increased centralisation of authority within the presidency and the consolidation of the relations between political leadership and selected economic elites.  These new cabinet appointments confirm fears of an increasingly closed off political elite who are averse to criticism and constructive engagement with transparent and accountable dialogue. Unless these deepening political divisions are addressed, it is likely to fuel violent protests, particularly in a context where the ANC members and supporters feel themselves alienated from their leadership.

In a context where state legitimacy has been increasingly questioned in recent years, the unilateral actions of the President in making controversial appointments will further feed into public alienation from the state.  South Africa has experienced rise in service delivery protests (that now also gripped the education sector), pointing to a state that is facing a responsiveness and accountability crisis.

Presidential decisions that fly in the face of the national financial stability and internal political accountability reverses many of the positive achievements of the last 23 years of democracy.  South Africa has seen continued or increasing levels of conflict and violence in various sectors of our society – gender violence, xenophobic violence, violent policing, vigilantism and service delivery and education protests that have become increasingly violent. Many of these forms of violence have their roots in the state’s failure to address the basic needs of communities. These social problems and conflicts erupt into violence when communities do not see the government as attentive to their concerns or willing to listen to their voices. When now, even the ANC NEC , feel that their voices are no longer being heard by the President, the powerlessness felt by the rest of the society is likely intensify and fuel more conflict. 

The cabinet reshuffle also undermines the stability of the state.  A strong developmental state is dependent on cabinet members that are competent and who can instil confidence in the ruling party, in the international community, and among South Africans more broadly. Our new trajectory is likely to weaken the state’s capacity and fuel conflict.

We call on the President to reverse these appointments We call on the ANC to call its leadership, especially President Zuma to account. We call on South Africans to voice their concerns and engage in collective peaceful protests and through available democratic processes. We call on civil society to unite in a collective process of protest, engagement and increased activism.
Monday, 03 April 2017
Press release: CSVR calls for continued leadership engagement against Xenophobia outbursts
(Media Articles)

Press Release  |   February 22, 2017

CSVR calls for continued leadership engagement against Xenophobia outbursts

The Centre for The Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) has called on civil society, elected officials and other political and community leaders to heed warning signs amid calls for a march against foreign nationals in Tshwane.

Residents in Pretoria are planning to march in Marabastad to voice their grievances. Some of their concerns have included allegations that foreign nationals are involved in hijacking buildings, running brothels and drug dens, taking over business in the city and being employed ahead of locals. During his state of the province address, Gauteng Premier David Makhura addressed xenophobic attacks and called on all leaders to handle the matter of migrants with a great deal of sensitivity and care due to their vulnerability. “In any country, migrants and refugees are very vulnerable people,” he said.

CSVR has seen improved engagement by many leaders seeking to address xenophobic attitudes. We call for continued leadership engagement to mediate community concerns following media reports on violence, destruction of property and looting of foreign-owned businesses.

CSVR has seen that xenophobic violence has been linked to socioeconomic grievances, service delivery and has been subject to political manoeuvring. It is therefore important that leadership not only engage with hateful agendas which spur violence, but also give due attention to the legitimate concerns for socioeconomic rights and service delivery that are essential for all people residing in South Africa.

“The organization condemns those calling for violence, but also highlights that violence diverts attention from the legitimate concerns of communities. This further encourages opportunists to mobilise frustrated communities in ways that prove counterproductive,” said CSVR. “It is important that local and national leadership address the root causes of people’s anger which manifests in such violent protests. To do this, political leaders must take action, engage communities and roll out services in a manner that is accountable,” added the CSVR.

Thursday, 23 February 2017
Parliament should lead in breaking cycle of violence
(Media Articles)

Press Release

Parliament should lead in breaking cycle of violence

February 10, 2017

 

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation has warned that the normalisation of violence in Parliament will have long-term repercussions for South Africans trying to break the cycle of violence in the country.

 

The CSVR was responding to disruptions during the State of the Nation Address in Parliament on February 9, 2017 when members of the EFF were ejected from the House.

 

“When violence becomes the norm as a way to resolve our problems, it eats into the social fabric of our society. This normalisation of violence is a concern. Even if new actors are sworn in to power, the act of violence as a way to deal with issues will remain,” said CSVR executive director Nomfundo Mogapi.

 

“If this is how Parliamentarians deal with difference then what message would it send to ordinary people if those in leadership react with violence to those who disagree with them,” she added.

 

“The gendered aspects of the violence are also highly concerning,” stated Nonhlanhla Sibanda-Moyo, CSVR’s gender specialist. “Female parliamentarians were manhandled by men in a way that bordered on harassment. We need to understand that gender-based violence is an enormous problem in South Africa. Leaders need to set an example for the rest of the country. The use of violent force against women should not be accepted in either public or private spaces and leaders and people in authority should be held accountable for this violence”

 

CSVR research has found that South Africans are already dealing with the long-term emotional and psychological trauma from the impact of violence. This excludes the physical and financial costs with its broad impacts on society that reinforces existing social divisions.

 

As early as 2007, CSVR research on the levels of violence in South Africa[1] found that violence had become normalised in South Africa for a variety of reasons including the limited effectiveness within the criminal justice system to deal with such challenges.

 

Additionally, the CSVR has continually found that the use of violence in collective spaces speaks to people not feeling heard. It is clear that the use of violence in public events such as SONA is a means for the public to raise concerns and frustrations that they are not given the opportunity to raise in normal circumstances. The learning from the SONA address remains that the people of South Africa need the opportunity to feel heard and for their frustrations to be dealt with in an ongoing and clear manner.

 

“Our political leadership has an opportunity to lead in breaking the cycle of violence in South Africa. How they deal with resulting crisis will sent a clear message to the rest of the country on the kind of society we want to be,” Mogapi concluded.

Monday, 13 February 2017
Student challenges are "ignored"
(Media Articles)

Statement

CSVR supports call for transformation of higher learning institutions

October 5, 2016

The current protests on campuses cannot be resolved by dealing only with issues of free higher education, but must also deal with the unresolved legacies of the past.

The patterns of escalation during #feesmustfall protests follow other protests which ended violently. It is the same script as what we saw in Marikana and Tshwane. It seems as if we as a society have learnt very little about how to deal with conflict constructively.

When the protest become disruptive or violent, institutional leadership invests a lot of money in meetings and interventions and rapidly resort to reliance on police and security. We know from years of research that the presence of police in these protest unfortunately often fuels rather than contains the violence.

Feedback from students show that the #feesmustfall movement is part of a longer-term social protest than is being recognised in the media and other forums. This also speaks to the fact that, as is indicated in our research “The Smoke that calls”, there is often a long period of non-violent protest, discussion and negotiation leading up to increased feelings of frustration and invisibility. This, along with the aggressive use of police and private security in the protests increases the chance of violence.

We also note that previous protests at historically black universities received limited media coverage, and only received national attention when historically white universities such as Wits and UCT also became sites of confrontation. The concerns expressed by students are not just about particular institutional policies, but speak to a broader crisis in higher education that has finally boiled over.

The #feesmustfall debate must also be viewed in the broader context of corruption and the current low level of trust in our government. In a debate about the allocation of public funds, the commitment of the state to address basic needs and deal with the legacy of inequality are legitimately questioned. Against a backdrop of the squandering of public funds on Nkandla, SAA, SABC, claims of lack of funds for students are understandably treated with scorn.

If South Africa wants to deal with the violence on campus then it needs to do more than simply deal with issues of university fees. It must also deal with the still unresolved legacies of the past through addressing symbolic and structural oppression on campuses.

We need to consider transformation approaches in which our students feel that they are part of the transformation agenda and are being heard.

Issued by the Centre for the Study of Violence and ReconciliationExecutive director: Nomfundo Mogapi

For more information and interviews contact: Hugo van der Merwe, Director of Research, Knowledge and Learning, 0825700744

Sibongiseni NgamileThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Tel: +27 11 888 0140Cell: +27 79 908 2362

Tuesday, 04 October 2016
Statement October 5, 2016: CSVR supports call for transformation of higher learning institutions
(Media Articles)

Statement

CSVR supports call for transformation of higher learning institutions

October 5, 2016

The current protests on campuses cannot be resolved by dealing only with issues of free higher education, but must also deal with the unresolved legacies of the past.

The patterns of escalation during #feesmustfall protests follow other protests which ended violently. It is the same script as what we saw in Marikana and Tshwane. It seems as if we as a society have learnt very little about how to deal with conflict constructively.

When the protest become disruptive or violent, institutional leadership invests a lot of money in meetings and interventions and rapidly resort to reliance on police and security. We know from years of research that the presence of police in these protest unfortunately often fuels rather than contains the violence.

Feedback from students show that the #feesmustfall movement is part of a longer-term social protest than is being recognised in the media and other forums. This also speaks to the fact that, as is indicated in our research “The Smoke that calls”, there is often a long period of non-violent protest, discussion and negotiation leading up to increased feelings of frustration and invisibility. This, along with the aggressive use of police and private security in the protests increases the chance of violence.

We also note that previous protests at historically black universities received limited media coverage, and only received national attention when historically white universities such as Wits and UCT also became sites of confrontation. The concerns expressed by students are not just about particular institutional policies, but speak to a broader crisis in higher education that has finally boiled over.

The #feesmustfall debate must also be viewed in the broader context of corruption and the current low level of trust in our government. In a debate about the allocation of public funds, the commitment of the state to address basic needs and deal with the legacy of inequality are legitimately questioned. Against a backdrop of the squandering of public funds on Nkandla, SAA, SABC, claims of lack of funds for students are understandably treated with scorn.

If South Africa wants to deal with the violence on campus then it needs to do more than simply deal with issues of university fees. It must also deal with the still unresolved legacies of the past through addressing symbolic and structural oppression on campuses.

We need to consider transformation approaches in which our students feel that they are part of the transformation agenda and are being heard.

Issued by the Centre for the Study of Violence and ReconciliationExecutive director: Nomfundo Mogapi

For more information and interviews contact: Hugo van der Merwe, Director of Research, Knowledge and Learning, 0825700744

Sibongiseni NgamileThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.Tel: +27 11 888 0140Cell: +27 79 908 2362

Tuesday, 04 October 2016
Government urged to assess violent protests
(Media Articles)

Johannesburg, South Africa - Inequality, low levels of access to resources, unresolved historical trauma, poverty and high levels of unemployment, were identified as some of the key drivers of violent protests. Corruption, lack of service delivery, unresponsive leaders were highlighted as key triggers for protests.

Read more

Monday, 25 July 2016
New civil society alliance formed to prevent violent protest and promote peaceful elections
(Media Articles)

14 July 2016

Pretoria, South Africa – As South Africa prepares for local government elections on 3 August, we urge government to take decisive action to prevent violent protests, says the Coalition Against Violence.

Read more

Thursday, 14 July 2016
Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation Statement on Violence in Tshwane: Violence as the currency for communities to purchase entrenched human rights must change June 21, 2016
(Media Articles)

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) is disturbed about the recent increase in political violence and the escalating collective violence around the country such as has been seen in the Tshwane area.

Read more

Monday, 27 June 2016
CSVR pays tribute to Nelson Mandela
(Media Articles)

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) would like to join the whole world as it pays tribute to this great son of the African soil, this selfless icon who together with millions of others here at home and in the globe, fought for freedom, human rights and peace in South Africa.

Read more

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Wednesday, 11 December 2013
African Union and CSVR sign Memorandum of Understanding
(Media Articles)

Press release: African Union Commission (AUC) and Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) click here for the full press release.

Monday, 20 May 2013
'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.

- SAPA

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
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