Department of Police
Secretary for police, Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane, says that her department has "serious concerns" about some elements of a report released yesterday entitled, 'Tackling armed violence – key findings and recommendations of the study of the violent nature of crime in South Africa'.
The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) compiled the report, which government commissioned in February 2007.
In a media statement following a presentation of the report's findings to the parliamentary portfolio committee on police, Ms Irish-Qhobosheane said that, in the department's view, the report fails to answer "critically" a fundamental question: why crime in South Africa is so violent.
According to the statement, the report "does not really engage with the implications of the post-1994 policing environment" as a response to crime. Further, "more could be said about police violence and its implications".
In the department's view, issues not covered in the report include:
· why some countries with histories of violence are not as violent as South Africa;
· why some poorer communities are more strongly affected by violence than others;
· crimes of the rich (fraud, embezzlement and corruption) and their impact on society; and
· the role of personality in violence and criminality.
Turning to the report's recommendations, the statement asserts that these fail to outline clear implementation strategies. While the recommendations "may sound doable", the report provides no detail on the "how and when".
According to newly appointed deputy minister for police, Makhotso Sotyu, "Some of the recommendations are already being addressed in the justice, crime prevention and security (JCPS) cluster".
However, the department acknowledges that the report does draw attention to "the relatively limited information" on violence in rural areas, as well as the need to improve data collection on violence in the country as a whole.
According to the report, "the core of the problem of violent crime in South Africa is a culture of violence and criminality".
"The ability to operate and achieve credibility within this culture is strongly related to one's willingness to resort to extreme violence with a weapon," the report continues.
Recommendations "operate at the following five levels":
· focusing on and strengthening the criminal justice response to violent crime;
· adopting other safety measures;
· addressing the culture of violence and criminality;
· supporting positive and healthy child and youth development; and
· engaging in issues of social justice.
Ms Irish-Qhobosheane indicated in her concluding remarks on the report that government is "collaborating" with Statistics South Africa to initiate "another victims' perception survey". It is anticipated that this survey will begin early next year and that it should help government to better understand "patterns of victimisation".