The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa's pledge to tackle crime but believes that more needs to be done to address the drivers of violent crime if the country is to deliver on the goal of halving crime in the next decade.
CSVR applauds the proposed interventions on policing, investigations, drugs and gangs proposed by President Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address, and commends him for being bold enough to identify and to acknowledge that violence is a societal problem.
There is however, concern that the heavy focus on the criminal justice system does not speak to the work that has been done over decades by CSVR and others in the violence-prevention sector.
"The police only come at the end spectrum of violent crime and focusing only on them will not be sufficient to halve or eliminate crime within the targeted time," said CSVR Executive Director, Nomfundo Mogapi.
In order to make progress in tackling violent crime, there is need to address some of the drivers of violence that include inequality, poverty and unemployment, not just as socio-economic issues, but as a violence-prevention issue. There is also need to address the family crisis and parenting vacuum that has emerged as driving violent crime in the work that CSVR does with communities.
"We need to address the psychological and social drivers of violence and invest not just in policing, but also in increasing social workers, psychologists and care workers in our communities. This includes addressing the mindset and attitudes that drive and condone violent crimes," said CSVR Executive Director, Nomfundo Mogapi.
Strengthening community leadership is also critical to building cohesive communities that are better equipped to develop and drive strategies for preventing violent crimes, identifying triggers and early warning signs of violence and supporting its victims. Strong, urgent measures are needed to tackle violence and to enable state players to be more effective and agile in their response.
Increasing police numbers alone is not enough, but has to be accompanied by measures to address the crisis of leadership within the police force and weakened capacity of the police oversight body, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), which is crucial for holding the police and its leadership to account.
CSVR would like to see bold steps taken to prioritise funding and implementation of the proposed interventions.
Proposed interventions on violence and crime should be in line with benchmarks and standards provided for in the AU transitional Justice Policy (AUTJP) that give clear guidelines to African states to develop what the AU calls "context-specific" comprehensive interventions to address violence and achieve sustainable peace and social cohesion.
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