Wednesday, 10 November 2010
The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation
Nothing new? - the Study on the Violent Nature of Crime
1. The CSVR crime study is of considerable value in taking forward the debate about how to respond to violent crime. The overall ‘integrated view’ of key aspects of the problem of violence is an important achievement of the study and takes the study beyond anything that has been done on the subject in South Africa. The CSVR study is groundbreaking not only in integrating a large amount of what is known about violence in South Africa but in several other respects. New and innovate aspects of the study include (this list is not exhaustive):
i. The studies on murder in six areas with high rates of murder, and case studies of perpetrators of violent crime are new research which provide new insights and add much greater depth to research on violence in South Africa. The murder study makes use of an innovative framework for analyzing murder dockets while the profiles of perpetrators of violent crime is the first such study which has been published in South Africa.
ii. The report on sexual violence, particularly in its new analysis of data from the cross-organisational ‘Tracking Justice’ study of rape in Gauteng, takes forward the literature on sexual violence and provides new data and analysis, amongst other things, on the interaction between victim resistance and injuries.
iii. The report on inequality and violent crime provides a new perspective on how to understand the significance of inequality in relation to violence in South Africa.
iv. The conceptualization of ‘major forms of violence’ and ‘the politics of crime’ are innovative aspects of the study.
v. The study is also innovative in South African terms in relation to the use which it makes of criminal record data of perpetrators of violent crime in several of its reports.
vi. The calls for a focus on armed violence, for attention to be paid to violence in poorer areas, and for broad social mobilisation against violence are new.
vii. The report highlights neglected aspects of violence including male-male-violence, aggravated street robbery, and knife violence.
viii. The findings on the concentration of aggravated robberies and firearm violence in metropolitan areas and the relationship between this and differences in patterns of murder between metropolitan and other areas are new findings.
ix. Related to this the finding relating to the involvement of some perpetrators in multiple forms of violence which cut across the imagined boundaries between ‘stranger’ and ‘acquaintance’ violence is also a new finding.
2. CSVR welcomes robust debate and engagement with the study and we will continue to seek ways in which to engage both government and the Portfolio Committee on Police on this report. Given that the majority of MPs have not read any of the reports and the Portfolio Committee chair had only seen the high level findings we do not feel that members of the committee have as yet engaged meaningfully with its findings. Since the study was completed early in 2009 our limited interaction with the Ministry on this study has not involved any substantial engagement either on the findings or on their concerns about it. We therefore believe that criticism of the study in the last few days is not based on substantive engagement with the reports. A significant amount of public money has been used on these reports which have been in government possession for a considerable period. But we do not believe that government has as yet done its job of responding to these reports in a purposeful and meaningful way.
For further comment please contact:
• Adele Kirsten - 082-853-9776
• David Bruce - 082-784-8616
Note: In 2007 the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation was contracted by government to carry out a study on the violent nature of crime in South Africa. The study was completed in February 2009. Including a supplementary report (completed in April 2009) the study involved the production of seven reports (see www.csvr.org.za/violencestudy). On Tuesday this study was the subject of a briefing to the Portfolio Committee on police by the Deputy Minister of Police assisted by members of the Secretariat for Safety and Security.