The very well attended event formed part of an ongoing dialogue series on this topic. Interesting and valuable insights were provided by the speakers Bheki Simelane, Deputy Director, Research and Policy, Western Cape Department of Community Safety, Axolile Notywala, General Secretary, Social Justice Coalition, Jean Redpath, Researcher, Africa Criminal Justice Reform, Dullah Omar Institute, University of the Western Cape, and Greg Breetzke, Associate Professor, Geography, Geoinformatics and Meteorology, University of Pretoria.
Bheki Simelane from the Western Cape Department of Community Safety spoke about the department's use of community mapping in Atlantis. Axolile Notywala emphasised the correlation between poor police resourcing and poor infrastructure in many neighbourhoods particularly affected by crime. Great input from Prof Greg Breetzke highlighted that 2.6% of police stations in South Africa record 20% of all murder (and 13% record 50%), and that within these precincts, 50% of harm may be localised in just a few spaces (5-15%). Jean Redpath spoke on her important analysis of the relationship between police per capita and murder rates and the fact that certain police stations are clearly under resourced.
Despite the various drawbacks present in the mapping of crime data, the general consensus was that not only would better crime data availability assist the police to do their work more effectively - but that additional factors within communities need to be explored and included with the limited data set currently available, in order to provide a more comprehensive view of crime patterns. Representatives from different stakeholders present at the event appreciated the sharing of information and the networking opportunities which will assist in their future work.
One of the encouraging outcomes of the ongoing research undertaken by our partners at the ISS and of its engagements in interdisciplinary multi-stakeholder fora is that insights are used in practical ways to improve the safety in communities. An initiative by the Department of Education for instance will focus on schools in hot-sport areas of crime identified by the research - multiple interventions there are being planned to improve safety and prevent violence in sustainable ways.
Use this link to view and download the presentations from the event in Cape Town - they truly offer a rich resource of valuable information: