Summary of the SaferSpaces Online Conference: Preventing Violence in South Africa - From policy making to evidence-based implementation

Summary of the SaferSpaces Online Conference: Preventing Violence in South Africa - From policy making to evidence-based implementation – Blog

In a series of webinars on the 7th and 8th of June, we drew from the existing evidence, experience and expertise of the civil society, academia and government sector in the prevention of violence and discussed how this could be utilised for the evidence-based implementation of the most relevant South African safety policy frameworks. The two-day online conference reflected on the prospects of the effective implementation of relevant evidence-based violence prevention interventions in South Africa. This article profiles the recordings of the 6 sessions from the conference, and summarises what was discussed. 

Session 1: Turning evidence into policies and policies into evidence-based implementation 

SaferSpaces Conference | Preventing Violence in South Africa: Session 1


The speakers for this session were Matodzi Amisi from the Centre of Learning on Evaluation and Results, Wits University; Lizette Lancaster from the Institute for Security Studies; Shanaaz Matthews from the Children’s Institute; and Lillian Mashele from the  Civilian Secretariat for Police. The session was moderated by Guy Lamb from the Safety and Violence Initiative, UCT

There are different understandings of what constitutes ‘evidence’ in relation to evidence-based programming. Some are of the view that anecdotes and basic evaluations of programmes constitute sufficient evidence for upscaling programmes, while at the other extreme there are robust arguments that only evidence that is generated through a highly rigorous and reliable scientific method (such as a RCTs) can be considered valid and worthwhile evidence.

Closely linked to the notion of evidence-based interventions is the concept of ‘implementation science’, which in essence is the study of methods and strategies to promote the scaling up of interventions into routine practice when evidence has shown them to be effective. Discussions about implementation science in South Africa have been building momentum. However, as the history of crime and violence prevention interventions in our history has clearly shown, implementation is frequently influenced by political and at times inconsistent bureaucratic considerations, with such interventions often being limited by insufficient capacity, a lack of skilled leadership and insufficient sustainability planning.

In this session speakers interrogated the questions of how policy making in the violence and crime prevention sector in South Africa is influenced by evidence; how the resulting policy frameworks can be implemented efficiently and effectively; and what role evidence-based approaches play.

Session 2: The role of police in violence prevention: harnessing the synergies

SaferSpaces Conference | Preventing Violence in South Africa: Session 2


The speakers for this session were Andrew Faull from the Institute for Security Studies; Jean Redpath from the  University of the Western Cape; and Major General Oswald Reddy, the Eden Cluster Commander from the SAPS Garden Route District. The session was moderated by Guy Lamb from the  Safety and Violence Initiative, UCT.

Approaches to safety and security that use ‘tough on crime’ tactics make little to no impact on safety. Calls for ‘declaring a war on crime’ and having opinions on ‘zero tolerance’ for persons in conflict with the law, in fact, often ignore human rights, do not deter crime, and most importantly, do not make people feel ‘safe’.

They fail to address the underlying causes of crime and violence. Recognising the limitations of these traditional approaches requires South African policy-makers to look more broadly at the underlying factors influencing crime and violence in South Africa. The adoption of the 2016 White Paper on Safety and Security and the 2016 White Paper on Policing mark an important shift in conversations around crime and violence prevention in South Africa. Both White Papers advocate for a more integrated and developmental approach to prevention that attempts to confront the underlying root causes. The approach to policing espoused in the 2016 White Paper on Policing is one that is demilitarized, community-centred, accountable, and adheres to human rights principles.

This session aimed to understand how the 2016 White Paper on Policing and the 2016 White Paper on Safety and Security interact; determine the real contribution police can make to security and a post-crime response of the criminal justice system; as well as discuss the potential of the police to play an active role in the prevention of violence and crime in South African communities.

Session 3: Preventing Violence through the Promotion of Gender Equality

SaferSpaces Conference | Preventing Violence in South Africa: Session 3


The speakers for this session were Rumbi Chidoori from Sonke Gender Justice; Luxolo Matomela with the GIZ-Partnerships for the Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls in Southern Africa; Laura Washington and Sivuyile Khaula from Project Empower; and Esther Maluleke from the Department of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities. The session was moderated by Franziska Frische from GIZ South Africa.

Gender-based Violence has been called the 2nd pandemic South African communities are confronted with, and has received high political attention in the past months. Major parts of the South African society are marked by a deeply patriarchal understanding of gender and gendered power inequalities which perpetrate gender-based violence in South African communities. Gender- transformative approaches seek to respond to this issue and aim for a long-term and profound change of the social structures which reinforce unequal gender power relations. In this session speakers asked the question of what needs to be done to prevent the experience or perpetration of violence based on a person’s gender. Specifically, speakers discussed the approach of gender-transformative interventions. 

Session 4: Building resilient communities: Public infrastructure and environmental design for prevention

SaferSpaces Conference | Preventing Violence in South Africa: Session 4


The speakers for this session were Tinus Kruger from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; Michael Krause from Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading; and Siphelele Ngobese with the South African Cities Network. The session was moderated by Thomas Hellman from GIZ South Africa.

South Africa’s spatial and socio-economic characteristics and the country’s history of forced segregation have resulted in a distinct relationship between crime and the physical location and environment. In this session speakers discuss area-based violence prevention interventions and how they target the specific conditions and demands of a certain community. 

Session 5: Growing up in South Africa: Safety in Childhood and young adulthood

SaferSpaces Conference | Preventing Violence in South Africa: Session 5


The speakers for this session were Keletso Kgalema, an Ambassador of the National Youth Resilience Initiative; Katharine Frost with the South African Parenting Programme Implementer's Network (SAPPIN); Deevia Bhana from the University of KwaZulu Natal; and Andisiwe Mbelekane from Masifunde Learner Development. The session was moderated by Lauren October from the Safety and Violence Initiative, UCT.

The median age in South Africa is 27.6 years; we are a nation of youth. At the same time, statistics show that young people are particularly affected by violence, both as perpetrators and victims. To counteract this, generations must join together and consciously work for a safer South Africa; adults to protect their children and children and youth to be empowered to demand their right to participation and safety.

In this session speakers discuss the role of safety in the early life of South Africans, and how the prosperous development of a young generation of South Africans can be achieved to form an inclusive and safe society with equal opportunities for everyone to thrive.

Session 6: How do we implement a whole of society approach?

SaferSpaces Conference | Preventing Violence in South Africa: Session 6


The speakers for this session were Diketso Mufamadi from the Institute for Security Studies; Tshepiso Machabaphala from the Department of Health; Mothupi Mafologela from the Civilian Secretariat for Police Services; and Guy Lamb from the Safety and Violence Initiative. The sessin was moderated by Melanie Lue Dugmore, an independent consultant who is integral in driving the Integrated Crime and Violence Prevention Strategy (ICVPS) to the 2016 White Paper on Safety and Security. 

The causes of violence and crime in South Africa are manifold, so the preventive approach as a response must cover various aspects of social life. This calls for a whole-of-society approach to violence and crime prevention-a buzzword often used, but how can we fill it with concepts and meaning?

At the end of the conference, speakers discussed how an intersectoral approach to violence and crime prevention in South Africa can succeed by combining resources, harnessing knowledge and experience, sharing responsibilities and coordinating activities collectively. What concrete ways can enable cooperation between all levels and sectors of government, civil society, academia, private sector as well as the South African citizens themselves to work together for safer communities in South Africa?

Some speakers gave permission to share the presentations they used during the sessions. These presentations can be found here

blog comments powered by Disqus