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.