BUILDING SAFER COMMUNITIES
Personal safety is a human right. It is a necessary condition for human development, improved quality of life and enhanced productivity. When communities do not feel safe and live in fear, the country’s economic development and the people’s wellbeing are affected, hindering their ability to achieve their potential.
Safety and security are directly related to social-economic development and equality. A safe and secure country encourages economic growth and transformation by providing an environment conducive to employment creation, improved education and health outcomes and strengthened social cohesion.
By 2030, people living in South Africa will feel safe at home, school and at work, and will enjoy a community life free of fear. Vulnerable groups should enjoy equal protection and fear of crime should be eradicated through active citizenry, an efficient criminal justice system, and co-ordinated partnerships between police, business, civil society and communities.
Police will be well-resourced and professional, staffed with high-skilled officers.
How we will achieve this?
1.1. STRENGTHENING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
Inspiring public confidence in the criminal justice system is necessary to prevent crime and increase levels of safety. The South African Criminal Justice System (CJS) recommended a seven- point plan to ensure a modernised, efficient and transformative system.
- Adopt a single vision and mission through alignment of strategic plans to create a single set of objectives, priorities and targets to be followed by the JCPS.
- Establish a new and realigned single coordinating and management structure.
- Make substantial changes to improve the performance of courts.
- Put into operation priorities to improve capacity of new court system.
- Establish an integrated and seamless information and technology database.
- Modernise and integrate all systems and equipment (docket management systems, court case management systems and parole management systems) to eliminate bottlenecks, increase forensic capacity, crime investigation and overall system efficiency.
- Involve public in the fight against crime by changing community policy forums to deal with all matters in the system.
1.2. PROFESSIONALISE AND DEMILITARISE THE POLICE SERVICE
- Enforcing police code of conduct and code of ethics through prescribed regulations and standards and the establishment of a regulatory body.
- Integration of code of conduct with human resource systems to ensure professionalisation of police and the appointment of highly trained and skilled personnel.
- National policing board should be established to set standards for recruiting, selecting, appointing and promoting police officials and police officers.
- Provisions should be made for a two- stream system (basic police stream and officer’s stream) to create a high calibre of police officers and recruits.
- Strengthening the capacity and training of new detectives and specialised investigators.
- Civilianising police by transforming the police from a paramilitary force to police service that places community at the centre of policing.
- Mobilise state and non-state capacities at all levels, through citizen involvement and co-responsibility to resolve root causes of crime.
- Introducing a holistic approach to crime prevention and community safety and security through coordinated efforts and the development of a framework that takes into account:
- Underlying root causes, such as poverty, inequality and unemployment.
- Lack of social cohesion and inadequate care of children.
- Motivations, temptations and motives of crime.
Safety of Women
- Gender based violence is unacceptably high in South Africa.
- Gender based violence inhibits women’s ability to enjoy rights and freedoms on the basis of equality of men.
- Gender based violence also impacts the lesbian, gay and transgendered communities.
Safety of Children
- Infrastructure at schools should be designed with the safety of girls in mind (public facilities and amenities).
- State care should extend to effective monitoring of and support for child-headed homes and surrogate parents.
- Issues relating to substance (drugs and alcohol) abuse and gangsterism in schools are a growing phenomenon that should be handled decisively through school safety plans to avoid short- term solutions.
- School authorities and local government should take responsibility for the safety of learners, children, teenagers and youth by tailoring safety measures to specific needs.
- Officials should be appointed by school governing bodies to conduct regular safety audits, to assess, report and make recommendations for improvement.
- A monitoring and evaluation system for school- management accountability should be developed.
Safety of Youth
- In South Africa, youth are often the main perpetrators and victims of crime. Young black males are most affected. The majority of victims whose race could be established were Africans followed by coloureds and whites.
- Resources should be mobilised from the public and private sector through partnerships to create and sustain long- term safety programmes for youth.
- Alcohol and substance abuse as well as anger management programmes should be introduced in schools for youth at risk.
- In 49% of cases of murder victims aged between 11 and 20 years, the offender was an acquaintance or person known to the victim.
- Context independent studies should be conducted with regards to perceptions of fear and crime and should be factored into policing plans, local government development plans and the CJS.
- Local government should have a safety budget and an annual plan to address the safety of vulnerable groups.
- Community activism and responsive citizenry should be encouraged in this area.
- Safety plans should be developed and communicated.
- Legislation on Human Trafficking should be expedited and Sexual Offenses Act amended.
- Department of Social Development should partner with NGO and business sectors to map out effective partnerships to eliminate violence and sexual crimes.
- Local Government and Department of Social Development should establish safe shelters for women and children who at risk of violence and sexual crimes.
- More work should be done by the Youth Commission, government departments, civil society and the private sector to develop an integrated plan linking social cohesion and safety among youth.
- Models for safe spaces for youth in cities should be developed based on international best practice.
- Better street lighting, removal of rubbish dumps and hazardous waste.
- Initiatives involving youth such as the Community Safety Volunteer Programme should be increase as part of the community empowerment programmes for safety.
- Safety audits and barometers should be developed informed and responded to by community members.
1.3. RURAL SAFETY
Access to justice and the safety of rural and farming communities demand special attention. These communities are often located far from government departments, business and NGO resources, exposing them to crime and safety risks. Rural police stations are often isolated and responsible for vast areas, which affects response times to domestic violence, child abuse and related crimes.
- National Rural Safety Strategy should be implemented in its totality.
- Communication tools and early warning systems should be prioritised to address the impediment of distance and infrastructure.
- Safety plans should be developed for each farm, and safety and crime prevention training to protect the vulnerable and most exposed.
1.4. IMPROVING REHABILITATION AND RECIDIVISM
- The conditions at which inmates are kept have a strong influence on their behaviour upon release.
- Recidivism is the relapse into criminal activity. Rates of recidivism reflect the degree to which released inmates have been rehabilitated and reintegrated into society.
- Overcrowding in prisons increase inmate violence and recidivism.
- Communities are not equipped to provide social services and support to rehabilitate the large number of returning prisoners. There are few rehabilitation programmes available to meet inmate needs.
- Substance- abuse treatment during imprisonment should be stepped up.
- Education and training programmes should be extended to increase employment and reintegration of released prisoners.
- Increase capacity of community based organisations to assist in sustaining rehabilitation and reintegration of former prisoners.
- The population of awaiting trial prisoners must be reduced drastically.
- Youth rehabilitation in prison should be a priority focus of Correction Services.
Law enforcement provides the institutional mandate required to improve safety. However, it does not and cannot provide a total response. South Africa has to mobile its communities to play a role in their own safety. The private sector already supports local initiatives, which should be supported and extended.
Safety involves the criminal justice system, local government, community, and private sector and role players involved in social and economic development. Only an integrated approach will make safety and security a reality for all South Africans.