South Africa | The South African Medical Research Council, together with the University of South Africa, has called for the enactment of a National Strategic Framework for Violence Prevention to comprehensively deal with violence in the country.
“This Framework, developed by the SAMRC, Unisa and NDoH, with widespread sectoral input, views promotive institutional environments and leadership as central to violence prevention,” says Professor van Niekerk. “Equally important, the Framework will allow the violence prevention sector to leverage existing data systems such as the National Injury Mortality Surveillance System, and encourage non-fatal surveillance systems to guide and monitor its implementation.”
Following the South African Police Service (SAPS) 2015/2016 crime statistics which show a decrease in serious crimes and sexual offences but an increase in other violent crimes such as robbery and common assault, Deputy Unit Director at the SAMRC’s Violence & Injury Prevention Research Unit, Professor Ashley van Niekerk says the upward trend in violent crimes remains a major concern.
The SAMRC has thus called for a framework that will provide guidelines to prioritise the reduction of violent crimes caused by poverty and socio-economic inequality, gender inequality and dominant masculinity, as well as alcohol and drug abuse.
“Effectively responding to crime in our country requires an integrated response from all citizens. The need to protect our women, children and vulnerable communities from crime must inspire us to act”, says Professor Glenda Gray, SAMRC President & CEO.
The framework also calls for improving quality and access to health, social and legal services for violent crime victims. It indicates that services ought to include mental health services, the training of police, prosecutors, judges in relevant legislation; and strengthened screening, investigation and monitoring of violent crimes.
Even though the framework does not explicitly speak to the prevention of public violence, Professor van Niekerk calls for the country to improve its institutional conflict resolution mechanisms, grow spaces for citizen participation at different levels of government, and improve service delivery and grow meaningful employment opportunities. The Framework is crucial for bringing rapid and strategic focus to the worrying levels of violence in South Africa.
NOTE TO THE EDITOR:
Please follow the link to access the framework.
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