SA murder rate decreasing

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Francis Hweshe

Cape Town - South Africa's annual murder crime figures have progressively slipped down from 26 000 in 1994 to 16 500 in 2010.

With the introduction of the Firearms Control Act in 2002, and as attitudes changed, about 640 gun dealers had to close shop between that time and 2006.

Though the country's support for crime prevention has been "inconsistent", "trust between the state, communities and inter-communities" was improving.
Also, communities' capacity for promoting safety was getting stronger.

These were the views of SA gun control advocate Adele Kirsten and African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) co-coordinator Sean Tait.

They were part of several high profile stakeholders from around the world, who made presentations at a World Health Organisation (WHO) meeting in Cape Town, which commenced on Tuesday.

The conference, which has been addressed by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, focused on the global campaign for violence prevention.

The gathering came at a time when the SA police were set to release the much anticipated annual crime statistics on Thursday.

Kirsten told BuaNews that the dip in murder rates could be attributed to the Firearms Control Act, as well as changes in attitudes towards gun ownership.

In her presentation, she said that addressing poverty through state programmes and trauma caused by apartheid, as well as including communities in decision-making could prevent "collective violence."

She based her presentation on a study they carried out in the poverty-stricken community of Bokfontein near Johannesburg.

Because of violence prevention initiatives undertaken in that community, some of the 2008 victims of xenophobia sought safety there, she said.

Tait said that together with government, they had worked on crime and safety projects in the neighbourhoods of Orange Farm, Elsies River and Nompumelelo located in Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape respectively.

For instance, he said that these communities were marked in part by poverty, drug abuse, gangsters, shebeens and overcrowding.

To tackle the problems, he said that they had done safety audits and developed "multi-sector safety plans."

Due to their interventions, Tait said that the communities' capacity for promoting safety was being strengthened.

Other presenters at the summit included the UN Habitat, Unicef and the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime.

The stakeholders seemed to agree that there was a lack of date around crime prevention.

They also concurred that there was the need for a multi-sectoral approach to the problem. - BuaNews

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