The Vision 2030 of the 2012 National Development Plan (NDP) states that: “In 2030, people living in South Africa feel safe at home, at school and at work, and they enjoy a community life free of fear. Women walk freely in the streets and children play safely outside”. Chapter 12 of the NDP calls for an integrated approach to building safer communities that acknowledges the root causes of crime and responds to its social and economic drivers.
A revised policy framework, driven through the White Paper on Safety and Security (2016) (WPSS), as an overarching national policy, outlines comprehensively the need for a holistic, integrated and multi-sectoral approach to violence and crime prevention. This approach is also underlined in the Integrated Urban Development Framework (IUDF), which highlights urban safety as a cross-cutting issue for urban development and governance, as well as in the National Strategic Plan on Gender-Based Violence & Femicide 2020 (NSP-GBVF). The ability to move around freely in our communities without the real or perceived threat of violence and crime not only has a tremendous positive effect on the quality of our lives, but also influences the potential for socio-economic developmental objectives.
All these policy documents recognize local government, at the closest interface between government and communities, as a key driver of quality service delivery including the promotion of community safety. The Constitution demands that services and functions that have the most developmental impact on citizens should be performed by local government. Accordingly, the Constitution requires municipalities to structure and manage their administration, budgeting and planning processes to prioritise the basic needs of their community. The detailed objects of local government are defined in Section 152, chief of which is the responsibilities to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner; promote the social and economic development of the community; promote a safe and healthy environment; as well as to encourage the involvement of communities and community organisations in the matters of local government.
Chapter 2 (4) of the Municipal Systems Act (2000) imposes clear legislated responsibilities on municipalities, effecting the aforementioned proposals in the Constitution.
In order for local government to fulfill its envisioned developmental role and responsibilities in building safer communities, it requires support from other spheres of government and non-state actors, encouraging a ‘whole-of-government’ and ‘whole-of-society’ approach. There is often a lack of capacity, expressed in inadequate and fragmented provision of services.
In this context, and to tackle these challenges, a partnership between the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the Inclusive Violence and Crime Prevention Programme (VCP) of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), in collaboration with the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) and the Department of Cooperative Governance (DCoG), is aimed at providing support to improve conditions and institutional capacities at provincial and municipal level required for building safer communities and achieving the legislative obligation to “promote a safe and healthy environment”. The basic focus of the support is to ensure that the capacity and resources to execute this obligation is present at municipal level with support from other spheres of government and involving the “whole of society”.
Municipal Capacity Building Process
Within this partnership, a national roll-out of previously tried and tested Municipal Capacity Building Trainings in Community Safety Planning was initiated in September 2020. The training sessions are for now run virtually due to the current Covid-19 restrictions.
The objective of the process is to strengthen the capacity of provincial government and municipal officials in integrating and implementing national frameworks on violence prevention, with a particular focus on the WPSS, IUDF and the NSP-GBVF. Learnings from support that started in preceding phases of the VCP programme provided to selected municipalities in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape between 2016-2019 have been consolidated and will be upscaled to at least 27 municipalities in all nine provinces.
A key focus of this intervention is to strengthen the institutional capacity of municipalities in developing and implementing violence and crime prevention measures guided by evidence-based (local disaggregated crime data, socio-economic profiles and other research-based data) community safety plans. To support this process, the integration of the community safety plans into Integrated Development Plans (IDP) and other strategic planning processes is emphasised.
The trainings are based on the Guidebook for developing Community Safety Plans for Provincial and Municipal Officials that SALGA with the support of GIZ-VCP and CSPS have developed on the basis of the initial municipal capacity building process in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng.
Enriched with other relevant publications and guides, the current training is designed in seven consecutive modules that build on each other. Starting from ‘Understanding the Situation’ in Modules one to three that intend to frame the discussion on safety (Module 1), build a conceptual understanding of crime and violence prevention (Module 2) and create an understanding of the legal landscape (Module 3). Module 4 assists with assessing the community context by looking at the specific needs of communities, while Modules 5 and 6 focus on planning and implementation by addressing the development of community safety strategies and plans (Module 5), as well as implementation plans thereof (Module 6). The last module (Module 7) looks at how to track progress to ensure monitoring and learning takes place throughout the safety planning process.
The first phase of the training was attended by more than 80 municipal and provincial officials representing and supporting 33 municipalities of different categories (local, district and metro) from across the country. The participants are split into two clusters to allow for better interaction and engagement during the online training sessions.
The feedback from the first phase that covered modules 1-3 confirms the interest to engage on the topic of community safety and the need to capacitate local government on an integrated and preventative approach to address root causes and drivers of violence and crime in South African communities.
Thank you for this training initiative, it is very much appreciated. It will really assist us in shaping responses on a local level. Training Participant
Definitely a well thought through practical training on linkages between National, Provincial and Local Government, and practical suggestions to enhance community safety in a local government context. Very interactive, thanks. Training Participant
It came out clearly, that community safety is “everybody’s business”, hence the participants hold a variety of positions within their municipal offices. From IDP managers, Directors for Community/Public Safety, Community Services Managers, Managers in the Office of the Mayor or the Municipal Manager, Environmental Managers, Risk and Disaster Managers, as well as Metro Police representatives, to mention a few. Due to the different set-up of municipal offices and varying capacities, the structure to coordinate community safety interventions may be located in different units.
The second and third phases of the training will take place at the end of October 2020 and the end of November 2020 respectively.
At least 9 municipalities participating in the training will receive further support to develop Community Safety Plans based on the principals covered during the training sessions.
A train-the-trainer component will follow after the completion of phases 1-3 to ensure that the acquired knowledge is fully integrated and sustained within municipalities, this will also encourage a district coordinating capacity required to support and align community safety planning with its local municipalities.
SALGA with the support of GIZ-VCP is currently working on the alignment of the training material with relevant SETA standards to offer an accredited skills development training on community safety for officials and councilors.
The success of the development of participatory and implementable Community Safety Plans rests on the shoulders of all role players including a committed political leadership.