Spotlight: preventing violence is all of our business

2017-11-23

It’s a warm October morning. In a school hall in Touwsranten, a small community in the Western Cape, members of the National Violence Prevention Dialogue Forum are standing back to back with their eyes closed. The room of 40 people is silent, but for the calm voice of group facilitator Jabu Mashinini. At first glance, this looks like a relaxing retreat. But forum members from government, academia, donors and civil society are preparing for two days of intense discussion, planning and action on how to prevent violence in South Africa.

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Neliswa Cekiso, Director of Child Protection, Department of Social Development

‘This initiative by the ISS provides a great opportunity to strengthen the partnership between government and civil society,’ says Neliswa Cekiso, Director of Child Protection in the Department of Social Development. ‘I see this forum as a perfect mechanism to bring all of this important work together so that it can be used collectively to enhance the review as well as the implementation of the integrated Programme of Action on Violence Against Women and Children.’

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) established the dialogue forum in 2015 so that academics and NGOs involved in developing and testing violence prevention programmes could interact with the government departments responsible for preventing violence.

In addition to government, the forum has also attracted the attention of the corporate sector. At the meeting in Touwsranten in October, Jet, the discount division of Edcon, announced a three-year commitment to support the implementation and scale-up of interventions shown to prevent violence.

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Elelwane Pahlana (Edcon), Chandré Gould (ISS) and Bongi Mlangeni (Social Justice Initiative)

‘Jet’s initiative with the ISS is in keeping with Edcon’s strategy to play a role in the fight against crime. We need to find solutions together to the problems faced by our communities,’ says Elelwane Pahlana, GM Transformation at Edcon. ‘Positioning more police on the streets alone won’t stop the violence. The focus of the programme should be on ensuring that young people have experiences that are enriching, worthwhile and which enable them to become productive and dignified members of society. This project does just that.’

Based on a successful positive parenting project in Touwsranten by the ISS, the University of Cape Town and the Seven Passes Initiative, Jet’s funds will be used to strengthen existing programmes offered by the Seven Passes Initiative to high school and primary school children in the afternoons and during the holidays. Parenting programmes will also be extended to include the nearby community of Wilderness Heights.

‘I’m encouraged by the results of these programmes and am excited by the prospect of expanding them to other communities,’ says Dr Chandré Gould, co-founder of the Seven Passes Initiative and senior research fellow at the ISS.

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Forum members discuss advocacy strategies

‘To maintain momentum, it’s vital that the ISS and partners in government, civil society and the corporate sector strengthen the community of policy makers and practitioners who are passionate about and committed to preventing violence against children.’

As forum members wrap up their dialogue, the joyful sound of children’s laughter can be heard outside – a reminder of the important work that took place in the school hall and the real difference evidence-based violence prevention programmes can make.

For more information contact:

Chandré Gould, ISS: +27 83 3054915, cgould@issafrica.org

Pictures: Amelia Broodryk/ISS

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