Accredited training on Community Safety – Blog
Municipal safety officials from across South Africa have successfully completed the accredited municipal training programme on community safety planning.
The pilot programme is an initiative of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through the Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention (VCP) programme.
The training – which is accredited by the Local Government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA) - provides provincial and municipal officials, and municipal councillors, with the skills and knowledge to develop and implement integrated community safety plans, drawing on evidence-informed violence prevention measures. Participants get practical guidance on how to perform and coordinate participatory safety planning processes that align with key policy instruments such as the Integrated Crime and Violence Prevention Strategy (ICVPS), the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF) and National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP GBVF).
Participants are capacitated to develop municipal safety plans which are also designed to be integrated into other strategic planning processes at municipal level, specifically the Integrated Development Plan (IDP).
The first cohort of participants were from the City of Ekurhuleni; City of Johannesburg; City of Tshwane; Nelson Mandela Bay Metro; King Sabata Dalindyebo District Municipality; Gert Sibande District Municipality; Steve Tshwete Local Municipality; Ehlanzeni District Municipality; Stellenbosch Municipality; Ngwathe Local Municipality and the City of uMthlathuze Local Municipality.
King Sabata Dalindyebo District Municipality
Ndumiso Sapepa is the Community Safety Champion at the King Sabata Dalindyebo District Municipality (KSD) in the Eastern Cape. The municipality includes the city of Mthatha, and the rural area of Mqanduli. The municipality has seen an increase in contact crimes in recent years and was one of the first municipalities in the province to adopt a community safety plan.
According to Sapepa, the concept of community safety was first introduced into the municipality in 2013 but it was not pursued, mainly due to a lack of understanding of what community safety is.
“At that point there were no proper plans or strategies in place. Then in 2019, after participating in a capacity-building programme offered by SALGA Eastern Cape and GIZ-VCP, we re-introduced the concept of community safety and developed a municipal wide community safety plan,” he says.
“The Member of the Mayoral Committee (MMC) responsible for safety at the time bought into the idea, but we had to overcome skepticism and institutional opposition.”
Sapepa explained that this was mainly due to a lack of understanding of what importance a strategic prioritisation of safety had for the municipality. This meant that the first steps of the community safety work in KSD included internal advocacy to build knowledge and gain support from key stakeholders within the municipality and set a focus on community safety.
“During this process we were capacitated enough to capacitate others and we realised the importance of linking the IDP to community safety. This promotes ownership of the safety approach and clarity on how the IDP brings the safety plan to life. If the plan or aspects of the plan are part of the IDP, it means there is a budget allocation.”
Since the introduction of the plan in 2019, there have been many changes in the municipality's approach to community safety.
“One realises that you have been doing the work already but now with the safety plan in place, and it being aligned to the IDP, it is more structured. As a result of this integration, we are now starting a new community safety unit, which means there is more accountability as the organogram speaks to the plan,” he says.
For Sapepa, the training has clarified his approach to community safety, and he is now able to connect the learned theories to his work.
“Community involvement is also key. We consult with councillors and ward committees, but this is not enough. You need to be on the ground engaging with community members, doing safety audits, and engaging at every step of the way,” he says.
The Johannesburg Experience
Nazira Cachalia is the Deputy Director of the Joburg City Safety Programme at the City of Johannesburg. According to crime statistics, Johannesburg’s crime rates remain low to moderate compared to other cities, except for robberies and assault. However, citizen perception tells a different story, and this has a negative impact on residents, communities, businesses, and potential investors.
Added to this, the city is faced with extreme inequality, poor service delivery and insufficient capacity for evidence-based planning.
“The city’s responses to these safety issues vary and are often reactive and enforcement driven. The city is doing a lot to address safety issues, but the work happens in silos, so the impact is diluted,” says Cachalia. “There is an overarching City Safety Strategy as well as various related departmental strategies and policies, but the gap seems to be in integrated implementation.”
The Joburg City Safety Strategy (JCSS) is an integrated and multi-disciplinary strategy approved in 2003 and revised in 2016 aimed at collectively improving safety in the city. The JCSS emphasises that addressing crime and safety is a complex phenomenon requiring the involvement of multiple stakeholders and that while the traditional ‘safety’ service providers such as Public Safety (i.e., the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department, Emergency Management and Disaster Management entities) have a key responsibility, the underlying causes of crime are often cross-cutting.
Cachalia feels that multiple stakeholders should work collaboratively to achieve the objective of creating a caring, safe, and secure city.
“While the strategy is an innovative one for a municipality – safety is a complex and constantly changing phenomenon. The methodology of the JCSS advocates for strong community engagement and participation. However, it is important to remain abreast of new and improved approaches to dealing with community safety and to build our own capacity and tools and this is where training such as this is beneficial,” she says.
“We are hopeful that the city can use the knowledge and tools acquired to better involve communities themselves in creating safer communities and this is why the city is participating in this process,” says Cachalia.
For Cachalia, as an experienced community safety practitioner, the most beneficial aspect of the training was the engagement with practitioners from other municipalities and the knowledge sharing opportunities this presented.
“Also, as this training is accredited and endorsed by SALGA, it can be used to lobby our principals to send more officials in the future and in turn this will better capacitate the COJ to implement community safety planning. This in turn enables the city to build capacity in communities themselves to ensure sustainability of safety initiatives, which can be implemented and properly evaluated,” says Cachalia.
How the Training Works
The training is structured into five (5) modules that guide the participants from an introduction on the developmental approach to safety, to the concepts of safety, crime and violence and the specific role that Local Government can play to build safer communities.
It then proceeds with practical guidance on how to develop community safety plans, including the required safety audits to develop localised solutions to specific community challenges. The last module focusses on monitoring and evaluation of the community safety planning processes to allow for constant adjustments of relevant violence and crime prevention interventions on local level.
The modules are presented to participants over eight contact days, either virtually or in person, over a four-month period. Each participant also has to complete a portfolio of evidence and those who do so successfully are eligible to receive up to 33 credit points towards the Community Development Qualification. It is envisioned that this programme will be rolled-out on a regular basis (one or two times a year) through a pool of accredited facilitators linked to the SALGA Centre for Leadership and Governance (SCLG).