NWH and Community Safety Plans
31 August 2022 – For immediate release
Ukulimala kwengqondo kukulimala komntu, (to damage the mind is to damage the person)
Ukulimala komntu kukulimala komndeni, (to damage the person is to damage the family)
Ukulimala komndeni kukulimala komphakathi. (to damage the family is to damage the community)
Ukulimala komphakathi kukulimala kwesizwe. (to damage the community is to damage the nation).
Living through these unprecedented times can feel frightening, especially when events can easily turn violent, risking harm to businesses and employees. Having an emergency preparedness contingency plan has never been more important. Now is the time to get your plan of action in place.
Community safety planning is important and being caught unawares can have disastrous effects on where we live and work. On 9 July 2021 Public violence, burglary, and malicious damage to property were reported in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, with at least 28 people being arrested and a highway being blocked. The riots continued on the evening of 11 July, when multiple news sources indicated reports of gunshots and explosions heard at local malls and residential areas.
The violence quickly escalated, and by the morning of 12 July. Multiple companies and malls were forced to close following widespread looting and violence. An incident occurred at Southgate Spar, a supermarket near a township in Pietermaritzburg. An unnamed 15-year-old boy was shot in the chest with a rubber bullet fired by police in the midst of the unrest and later succumbed to his wounds. The incident played a part in escalating the unrest.
354 people died due to the unrest according to the South African government, while 5,500 were arrested by 12 August 2022. In KwaZula-Natal, 2,763 people had been arrested by 24 July 2021.
Stages of the safety planning process
Although the task of building safer communities is daunting, the key to successful safety and violence prevention interventions is planning. As a community you should have a clear process in place prior to beginning the safety planning process in order to ensure consistency.
Research on successful ways to strengthen community safety suggest a process that is broken down into four separate stages:
- Stage 1: Conducting a community safety audit to identify concerns to safety and to develop a deeper understanding of the physical and social environment of a community, as well as a knowledge of the organisations and people already involved in violence prevention initiatives.
- Stage 2: Developing a community safety plan and/or strategy to reduce the risk factors and strengthen the protective factors to violence in a particular community.
- Stage 3: Implementing and managing the plan/strategy in accordance with a framework that provides clear roles and responsibilities and project management principles and practices.
- Stage 4: Monitoring and evaluating the plan/strategy against a series of indicators that measure progress towards what works, what does not work, and what might work.
Safety challenges are something that we must look at when coming up with a community safety plan. Some of the aspects to look at are:
- Levels of crime and violence » Quantitative data » Crime statistics for the past five years, broken down by category of crime (i.e. violence crime), and by station
- Statistics on crime and violence from unofficial sources, such as NGOs, Community Policing Forums (CPFs), Neighbourhood Watches, Street Committees, etc.
- Victims of Crime (VOCs) survey results for information on perceptions of crime and violence Qualitative data » Information on crime and violence in the area (i.e. newspaper articles, CBO/NGO reports, etc.)
- Data collected during safety audit (i.e. interviews, focus group discussions, ward meetings) Major risk factors to safety at the community level
- Conditions that contribute to crime and violence in the municipality. For example, at a community level, risk factors could include: High levels of inequality and unemployment, lack of social cohesion amongst community members, limited access to health and educational services, excessive levels of drug and alcohol abuse.
With your NWH set up and running, now is the time to implement these plans. Its certain that you are being kept busy with crime levels on the rise. It has been reported that there have been over 1 million house break-ins in the last year and it does not seem to be letting up.
Keep your radios charged, be vigilant and as always be a safe citizen.