Discussing safety and security in South Africa – the importance of dialogues

  • 07 Apr 2015

Discussing safety and security in South Africa – the importance of dialogues – Blog

Public event on “Inequality, Justice and Development” at the District Museum in Cape Town with Vuyiseka Dubula (Sonke Gender Justice), Mukelani Dimba (Open Decmocracy Advice Centre), Edgar Pieterse (African Centre for Cities), Robert Muggah (Igarapé Institute) and Albie Sachs (former judge on the Constitutional Court).

Public event on “Inequality, Justice and Development” at the District Museum in Cape Town with Vuyiseka Dubula (Sonke Gender Justice), Mukelani Dimba (Open Decmocracy Advice Centre), Edgar Pieterse (African Centre for Cities), Robert Muggah (Igarapé Institute) and Albie Sachs (former judge on the Constitutional Court).

International Dialogue on Citizen Safety (Feb 2015)

Find more information and interviews with speakers on the Conference Page.

Videos of the presentations and the final conference report will be uploaded here as well.

Safety and security has always been a pressing issue in South African Communities. The establishment of ‘neighbourhood watch’ groups and other community fora to protect communities speaks volumes about people’s need to feel safe. Similarly, the call for the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into Policing stemmed from the fact that the community felt unsafe in many circumstances.

Addressing violent crime prevention in both the national and provincial policy sphere is not new to South Africa. In 1996, South Africa adopted the National Crime Prevention Strategy – which, on paper, covers the developmental approach to safety. In 1998, the Police adopted the White Paper on Safety and Security – a policy position for the police on safety. Realizing the components and values embedded within these policies and strategies was, to a large extent, quite flawed, despite the fact that it gave meaning to the right to freedom and security of a person in the Constitution.

Thirteen years later, the Department of Social Development adopted the Integrated Social Crime Prevention Strategy. This strategy contains a vision of a safe South Africa, safe communities, safe families and responsible individuals. By placing a priority on the “poorest of the poor” and marginalised and disadvantaged groups, the strategy provides a sound basis for social crime prevention in South Africa.

Draft White Paper on Safety and Security (2015)

South Africa's new overarching policy for safety and security. Download the draft here.

The National Development Plan contains an entire chapter on safe communities in South Africa and the draft Integrated Urban Development Framework acknowledges the importance of safety in urban spaces. The Department of Basic Education just completed the National School Safety Framework. The Civilian Secretariat for the Police has adopted the Community Safety Forums Policy. The Civilian Secretariat for the Police also published a new draft White Paper on Safety and Security for public comment, which will set a new benchmark for a holistic and developmental approach to crime and violence prevention.

What does this all mean? Are there synergies between all these policy documents and strategies? How do all of these developments impact at local level?

The International Dialogue on Citizen Safety in February 2015 was an opportune moment to discuss these developments.

The Dialogue

The dialogue took place on the 25th  – 27th  February 2015 in Cape Town. Comparative learning on challenges and successes is an important component in measuring the impact of the success of violence and crime prevention initiatives.

To this extent, the purpose of this dialogue was to bring together international and local experts in violence reduction, security promotion, crime prevention and stabilisation to share experiences, identify good/ promising practices, discuss challenges to contribute to shared learning, that is part of a growing south-south dialogue on safety and security. Participants from Namibia, Mozambique, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa and Colombia made presentations on various issues in relation to safety and security.

Panel discussions varied from local approaches to safety and security, the prevention of youth violence and the education system, security and civil society oversight and access to information and justice, among others.

The dialogue also hosted a public event on “Inequality, Justice and Development” at the District Museum. Vuyiseka Dubula from Sonke Gender Justice facilitated this conversation with panelists such as Mukelani Dimba (Open Decmocracy Advice Centre), Edgar Pieterse (African Centre for Cities), Robert Muggah (Igarapé Institute) and Albie Sachs (former judge on the Constitutional Court).

The Sustainable Development Goals

The Sustainable Development Goals is a set of new draft goals to take forward the strides made during the Millennium Development Goals process.

There are currently 17 draft sustainable development goals, which will – in all probability - be adopted during the United Nations General Assembly session in September 2015. Two important goals for safety and security are, goal 11 – building safer communities – and goal 16 – justice as a development goal.

The dialogue also contained discussions on justice as a sustainable development goal and what this might entail. Presentations in relation to access to toilets and safety, and the role of community advice centres were discussed in this regard.

In the last official meeting of the Open Working Group to discuss these goals, the task team agreed on draft targets that could be used to measure goals 11 and 16. These are not cast in stone, as all country representatives at the UN General Assembly might not agree to the same set of targets. Please visit https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgsproposal for information.

The Outcomes

The dialogue was intended to be outcome-oriented and frame a good reference for development within the safety and security sector for South Africa and participating countries.

The increased learning from a comparative perspective will serve as a foundation for concrete collaborations between organisations and countries present.

A comprehensive report of the dialogue and video interviews will be posted on the conference page on SaferSpaces. Moreover a special edition of the Stability Journal with South African articles on crime and violence prevention will be published at the end of April 2015. This journal can be accessed here: http://www.stabilityjournal.org

The next dialogue will be on 16 and 17 April 2015 in Bogotá, Colombia with the following theme: “Stablization after the conflict: beyond the peace accord”.