Umhlali Project – Preventing violence and keeping our children safe

Umhlali Project – Preventing violence and keeping our children safe – Blog

The Umhlali Project is an early crime and violence prevention project based in Walmer Township, Port Elizabeth. It is a joint undertaking between the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention (CJCP), The University of Cape Town’s Gender, Health and Justice Research Unit (GHJRU), and Masifunde Learner Development (MLD). The Umhlali Project has secured international donor funding until 2020 from the Human Dignity Foundation and Comic Relief.

The Umhlali Project has the overarching goal of designing, implementing and evaluating an early crime and violence prevention project that can be replicated in other areas.  It focuses on four intervention areas:

  1. Individual people
  2. Schools (from preschool to high school)
  3. Families
  4. Communities

Below we present a selection of the activities and resources offered by the Umhlali Project. For more information, visit

Homework Club

These happy faces are from the new Umhlali homework club. The homework club meets every Monday - Thursday afternoon during school term for two hours from 14h00 – 16h00.   The purpose of the club is to provide academic support and daily homework supervision to children.

The class consists of 45 Grade 2 – 7 primary school children from Walmer Township. The club is supported by a team of five tutors (high school graduates).  The tutors have all been trained on child protection and safeguarding, and are supported by a social worker and social auxiliary worker. We also provide a simple snack of juice and sandwiches. At present, the club meets in a temporary venue while a more permanent venue is secured.

The club is embedded in the broader family work of the Umhlali project, in that parents are included in parenting intervention. The homework club will be supplemented by a school holiday programme later on the year.

We had a very interesting meeting recently with Tracey Butchart from Rubricate, who has some very interesting software on assessing learner competencies in maths and science. This software could be used to benchmark results from our homework club.

We are also in the process of providing more structure to our homework clubs (now at 79 learners!) and also starting early for the lower grades who leave school early in the afternoon. We have also placed an order for educational equipment and resources from SA Toy Trade and we are really looking forward to receiving our new learning materials.


As part of its ongoing work to integrate ICT (information & communication technology) into early crime prevention, Umhlali has developed a mobile-friendly platform that will allow child victims of crime to access services: Uphephe.

The purpose of the platform is to ensure that those children who choose not to make formal reports can still access services such as counselling and support.  This platform is called “Uphephe”, which means “be safe” in Zulu.

Uphephe is Umhlali’s online platform to link child victims of violence with local service providers 24 hours a day. The platform links children using keyword algorithms. The platform does not track any identifying details of the child using the site.  Once the child has entered basic information on age, gender and nearest major town, the platform generates a list of the nearest service provider addresses, working hours, landline, email address and emergency 24 number (if they have one).  This list can then be printed out or emailed as a PDF.

The site is free to use, generously sponsored by HDF and Comic Relief. We will be formally launching Uphephe during Child Protection Week from the 27 May – 2 June 2016.  We were assisted in the development of Uphephe by Lightspeed.

The platform works as follows:

  1. The child accesses the platform via a cellphone or the internet.
  2. The child enters non-identifying information, such as age, gender, location and what has happened to them.
  3. The child also indicates what steps they have taken to date regarding being victimised.
  4. The child clicks "enter".
  5. The platform matches the child with their nearest service provider, using a keyword-matching algorithm.
  6. The child is then in a position to make contact with the listed services providers in their own time.

Child Protection Training

“This should be included in the Department of Community Safety training to neighbourhood watches as a sub-model of their training.” Comment from a training participant
CJCP has developed a training manual to capacitate organisations who work directly and indirectly with children on child protection matters.  These training materials are available for anyone to use provided:

  • They acknowledge the source, and all the sources within the materials
  • They do not use the materials for commercial or income-generating purposes
  • Any adaptations of these materials must also be licensed under the same Creative Commons license.

These materials were piloted in Cape Town on the 22-23 February 2016.

Download the Training Manual here

Child Protection Poster

Umhlali has developed a child protection poster for organisations rendering direct services to children. The poster has been designed to be generic for any organisation so that anyone can make use of it.  The posters are designed to be laminated so that the user can write their contact details in flipchart pen and then erase it with soap and warm water should then details need to be updated.

The purpose of the posters is to ensure that all children accessing services have the contact details of the correct organisational person to whom they can make complaints about any issues relating to child safety and welfare. These issues could arise from the way that the organisation renders its services to children, as well as from outside the organisation (the child’s welfare at home or school).

400 posters have been printed and will be distributed to the Umhlali stakeholders during Child Protection Week. The poster is also available as a PDF download.

Child Protection Indicators Booklet

The Umhlali Project has developed a free downloadable resource that lists the common indicators associated with different kinds of child abuse and neglect.

The Purpose of these Indicator Lists
These indicator lists have been developed to assist with the identification of children potentially in need of interventions. It is often the case that children who have problems do not get the help they require because adults are not aware of the need to refer the child. It is hoped that these indicator lists will assist in improving the access of children to services.

The Dangers of Indicator Lists
These indicator lists are not diagnostic tools, and they should not be used to categorise or label children. The indicator lists are very simple guides to the common indicators associated with certain problems affecting children.
Even if a child has several of the indicators listed in the indicator lists, it is not for certain that the child is a victim of sexual abuse or bullying. If a child has some of the indicators of the indicator lists below, the child must be referred for a proper assessment of his/her circumstances.

To receive a free copy of the booklet in PDF, please email