The experience of the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro offers valuable lessons on the challenges and opportunities which come with the implementation of an integrated approach to violence and crime prevention.
The metro – one of eight metropolitan municipalities in South Africa - is situated along the shores of Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape and comprises of the city of Gqeberha, the nearby towns of Uitenhage and Despatch, as well as the surrounding rural areas. The metro is known as the ‘friendly city’, but in recent years has recorded a steady increase in incidence of interpersonal violence.
According to the latest State of Urban Safety Report, Nelson Mandela Bay Metro is also the murder capital of all metros in South Africa, with a reported 71 murders per 100 000 people.
Gun violence appears to be on an upward trend, and crime statistics for the second quarter of 2022/23 show that 232 people were murdered in Nelson Mandela Bay in a three-month period, with 225 incidents of rape reported during the quarter.
Add this to the political instability in the metro, along with a rising unemployment rate and increased rate of poverty, and it is a toxic mix. These conditions make it ideal to promote a more integrated and whole of society approach to violence and crime prevention and to unpack the need for a more coordination amongst stakeholders and more specifically how national government can assist municipalities in implementing national policies..
In 2022 a broader national government workshop on Integrated Area Based Violence Prevention interventions concluded that while most government departments and many governments aligned entities have violence and crime prevention initiatives in place, they are not well coordinated. As NMBM had a vibrant Special Programmes Unit in place at the time, it was identified as an ideal location for a case study on how these various initiatives and policies can be implemented in a coordinated manner.
Integration in Action
Since 2022 there have been a series of workshops held in the metro, aimed at enhancing the coordination and alignment of existing violence and crime prevention policies, particularly the Integrated Violence and Crime Prevention Strategy (ICVPS) and the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (NSP-GBVF). The workshops brought together community safety and gender-based violence prevention officials, organisations from the civil society sector, law enforcement officials, academia and other stakeholders in building safer communities.
The first workshop took place in October 2022, and established working groups tasked with developing a short-term plan of action in four key areas, with the aim of establishing best practice and joint learning for localised implementation of these violence prevention strategies. The focus areas were Capacity Building; Structures for Coordination and Forums, Network Data/Knowledge exchange and communication and awareness.
In February 2023 the working groups reconvened with the intention of learning and sharing lessons of collaboration and how to do so more effectively. It is envisioned that these learnings will contribute to the development of a guideline to assist municipalities for the localised implementation of the ICVPS and the NSP-GBV
The session was an opportunity for working groups to report back on activities undertaken in the intervening five months and plot a way forward for improved collaboration. These feedback sessions offered valuable insights into the complexity of implementing these vital policies, which call for a multistakeholder approach, but which are driven by different lead departments.
At the beginning of the process each of the working groups identified activities through which stakeholders could collaborate to localise both policies in the metro. This process included mapping of the existing work being done in that focus area and a schedule of activities which often newly-formed partnerships could take forward. However, five months later few of these activities were achieved, providing valuable lessons for violence prevention practitioners, in the municipality and elsewhere.
The attempt to localise these two key policies in the metro produced some interesting results, as highlighted below:
- Engagement is key. Working groups reported that interventions where community members had not been engaged before implementation were less likely to succeed.
- Silos. Stakeholders in the metro called for a deeper collaboration and alignment, particular between government and community support organisations.
- Avoid duplication of effort.
- Knowledge sharing. Participants highlighted the importance of being up to date on relevant legislation, policies and best practice and how to implement them in a localised context and feedback to national government policy makers.
- Timing and local conditions must be taken into account in planning. Resource mapping for some interventions started in December, which is traditionally festive season in South Africa and contributed to limited response.
- Resources. How can the limited resources available – for both government and CSOs – be used effectively.
- Greater information sharing. The workshop identified a need for a resource which maps violence prevention structures in the region.
- Collaboration. How can the various role players come together and implement these policies in a unified way, by developing joint campaigns and embedding activities in relevant structures. This would maximise beneficiation from available resource, including human resources, no matter how limited
- There must be a process to professionalise safety practitioners.
- Implementation must be evidence informed.
Opportunity for Collaboration
Sinqwo Fatyi represented Buhle Bethu at the workshop. The organisation activates the talents of young people in Gqeberha through motivational programmes targeting children, former offenders and the wider community, with a focus on GBV prevention.
The organisation uses art as a vehicle to motivate young people and offer them diversions from interpersonal violence and GBV. For her, the workshop was a chance to engage with practitioners working in the same space and identify opportunities to work together.
“I have heard of these strategies before, but after attending this workshop I was also able to identify opportunities to work together with others and implement them in our different spaces. This session and has been good for networking. In future if I want to implement programmes I will have a network of peers to lean on. We have common goals but we must have better focus, especially since a lack of resources is always a challenge.”
Fatyi is hopeful that the forums proposed as part of the workshop process will lead to increased cooperation between government, community support organisations and communities in the metro area.
The Integrated Violence and Crime Prevention Strategy (ICVPS) is the implementation tool of the White Paper on Safety and Security.
The strategy advocates for a whole of government and society approach to preventing violence and fighting crime.
The ICVPS consists of six interdependent and interrelated pillars.
- An effective criminal justice;
- Early interventions in preventing crime;
- Victim support interventions;
- Effective and integrated service delivery;
- Safety through environmental design; and
- Active public and community participation.
The ICVPS gives expression to the vision of safe communities, articulated in the National Development Plan 2030; where people are and feel safe, at home, school, work and in their communities and where women can walk freely in the streets, and children can play safely outside. This Strategy sets out a framework to guide the planning, implementation of a comprehensive, holistic and integrated partnership approach to community safety, crime and violence prevention in South Africa.
The National Strategic Plan on Gender-based Violence (NSP-GBV) provides a multi-sectoral, coherent strategic policy and programming framework to ensure a coordinated national response to the crisis of gender-based violence and femicide by the government of South Africa and the country as a whole.
The strategy focuses on comprehensively and strategically responding to gender-based violence and femicide, with a specific focus on violence against all women (across age, physical location, disability, sexual orientation, sexual and gender identity, gender expression, nationality and other diversities) and violence against children and how these serve to reinforce each other.
The two policies share some common and overlapping objectives but are implemented by different lead national departments. The Civilian Secretariat for Police Service is the implementer of the ICVPS while the Department of Women, Youth and People with Disabilities is the lead department for the NSP, but the responsibility of implementation falls to line-departments in the national, provincial and local spheres of government.