Operation Suggestions for Law Enforcement Agencies and the Community.

Last week one of the posts had something to do with policies which have come and gone. South Africa has the tendency to make policies, toss them out after a year or two, recycle them five years altar and rename them. An example of this would be the National Crime Prevention Policy (1996), which was tossed aside and then revived in the Urban Renewal Strategy (2002). Be that as it may, we still have a problem, while doing some reading I came across something known as the Ceasefire programme which is concentrated in gang-ridden, Inner-CIty Chicago in the USA.

Ceasefire aims to change small numbers of individuals at a time, with the end result being, change in whole communities, it also draws its theories from public health theories. This programme comprises of: Clergy members, ex-gang members, regular members of the community. Ceasefire has what is known as “Violence Interruptors”, these people are deployed to intervene, when violence is about to erupt or when it already has. They step in and convince those  involved to settle things amicably and without violence. They do not try to persuade them to break gang affiliations, they only attempt to stop the violence taking place at that particular time, they diffuse volatile situations and ensure the safety of those involved.

Ceasefire also has outreach programmes for individuals at risk and those wanting to leave gangs. Ceasefire has been succesful because violence interruptors are often times ex-gang members and members of the clergy. They facilitate access to gang members and gang areas, they are culturally appropriate members. Law Enforcement Agents cannot gain this type of access and of they do it is often met with violent retaliation.

 

 

Now, if we were to apply something similar to the Cape Flats instead of broad-based, ambitious policies, perhaps we would see some success in the reduction of violence. a programme such as Ceasefire in my opinion, would do quite well on the Cape Flats. An area such as Lavender hill and Mannenberg are littered with gangs, in order to get them to stop the violence, one would need to speak to those at the top of the gang hierarchy. Who better to do this than individuals who are culturally similar? who understand the inner workings of the gang structure?

Outreach programmes are a definite need within these communities, these programmes need to be implemented on a long-term basis, not 3-6 months but perhaps years. Until we are sure these young men and women are fully rehabilitated, and are strong enough to withstand the pressures of living in an are such as Hanover Park.

Yes, momentary violence interruption is not a long-term solution but it is a start. In that moment, change may occur in the community and in individuals themselves. This will also go toward aiding unity within the communities. And in order to fight violence unity within the community is key, yes policing is good and well but at the end of the day they go to their own homes and areas such as Lavender Hill are still left without solution.

Place or Individual?

On my way to campus this morning, I had a thought. I looked around in my area and I wondered, is Lavender Hill the way it is because of individuals or because of the structural environment?

There is a sociologist who describes the reasons for deviance as, “place, place, place”. His name is Hersche and his theory is known as the Social DIsorganisational Theory, Now I won’t bore anybody with the stringent academic version, I will simply summarise.

SOCIAL DISORGANISATIONAL THEORY

  • This theory attempts to understand why places remain entrenched in crime and deviance even when individuals have sparked a change.
  • More socially disorganised neighbourhoods= more deviance

Characteristics of the places include:

  • Overcrowding, or dense population
  • High scale poverty.
  • Various usage of land, this includes formal and informal business, informal settlements and residential areas.
  • Frequent residence change or transience, People move in and out regularly.
  • and of course, dilapidation of facilities.

Lavender Hill, Hanover Park, Parkwood, Sea-WInds, Mitchells Plain and various others, all fit this description. This because of the Apartheid legacy, hoards of coloured/mixed race and black families were  fo9rced out of the city center and into these suburbs on the outskirts of Cape Town. Unfortunately even with the transition government, these factors became embedded in communities, families and communities could not escape it. Could it be the Hersche’s “Place, place, place” theory applies to the Cape Flats? Of course it is only a theory and everyone may not agree  but it needs to be said that it does have valuable points. Could it be that our government needs to take a sociologically based approach in fighting crime in these areas?

Lets look at the reasoning behind this kind of approach: Severe poverty causes rampant conflict and high levels of crime in communities, this is a given. A zone of transition, as can be found in Cape Towns industrial areas such as Epping Industrial and Athlone, puts residence and children at an increased risk for crime and deviance. It is easy for children to skip school and play in a vacated dockyard or warehouse. In Retreat main road, empty buildings become breeding grounds for criminal activity. The ease at which residents move in and out creates a lack of unity in communities, one minute they’re here the next they’re gone. Dilapidated buildings and parks not only create criminal breeding grounds, but they parks are no loner safe for children to play in, resulting in inactive children, who then find other means of entertainment and these are often destructive.

So maybe, just maybe, the stigma attached to the Cape Flats as well as its structural challenges are aiding the high levels of crime and deviance we experience. Maybe the government should try looking at this from a different perspective.

 

 

 

The other half…

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 Not to far away from the Retreat one can find areas such as Vishoek and SImons Town. These areas are beautiful, the sea is practically on residents doorstep an dcrime is at a minimum.

These are the more affluent areas of Cape Town, the residents here have very little knowledge, of what is happening on the outskirts of their ideallic homes.

What crimes do they experience, if any? What if roles were reversed, and areas such as Vishoek suffered from daily gang wars? How would government then respond?

Food for thought…

Operation Choke.

Operation Choke is the latest response from the poice, in an attempt to combat gang violence on the Cape Flats.

The word “Choke” suggests the relentless nature of this operation. Does Cape Town need more violence?  The name stands in stark contrast to some of the previous Police operations: Previous operations were called: Operation  Good Hope, and Operation Gang Bust. Does “CHOKE” mean there will be an increased level of violent confrontation between gangs and police?

More fatalities is not what this area needs.

State responses to Cape Flats Gang violence.

State responses to the gang violence in Cape Town, is a topic this blog has not yet covered. Yes, we know there is police intervention but what are the State responses to this epidemic, and have they yielded any results?

Anti-gang Policies:

  • National Crime prevention police 1996- This policy failed because, it was found that it attempted to hand “too many issues”, it was mainly made up of civilians, and not police officer, people who were “trusted” by ANC ministers. The reason for this was, S.A’s political state at the time, ministers had their hands full with political transformation.
  • Prevention of Organised Crime Act-1998: This act was geared towards criminal gang activities, and organised crime. This act allowed for the prohibition of property, and material possessions if the were found to be a tool in criminal activity. This could be a car,house or business. Although this was a good start, unfortunately there has been little success.

Urban Renewal Strategy -2002 This policy sought to integrate local agencies and resources along with crime prevention strategies.One of the aims of the policy was to finish what the National crime Prevention Policy had started, it envisaged many of the crime prevention strategies the NCPP had to offer, it was highly ambitious and its focus areas in the Western Cape were Mitchells Plain and Khayeltisha. Unfortunately, there was little mobilisation of government resources, it progressed to slowly.

Provincial Gang Strategy- 2003: This was a no holds barred approach, this policy sought to intensify police enforcement. This strategy, fuelled the already, rampant violence on the Cape Flats, more lives were lost during intense gun battle,a nd there was a lack of accountability on the part of the law enforcement agencies.

These are only  a few of the policies which have been erected, sadly they have yielded minimal results, reasons such as political shifts, funding and resource shortages and  a lack of communication has caused many of these policies  to fall flat. These policies look good on paper but correct and ethical implementation remains to be seen.

We commend our government for passing these Acts, but we now need them to get their hands dirty and actually implement it.