CeaseFire Project Training with Chicago Experts Set to Begin
Joint Media Statement by Minister Plato and City of Cape Town Mayco Member JP Smith
Training for the CeaseFire Project will take place this week with members from CeaseFire Chicago visiting Cape Town to brief government and community role players on the approach aimed at reducing shootings and killings in gang-plagued neighbourhoods.
Mr Jalon Arthur and Mr Brent Decker will share their expertise in order for role players to determine how the strategies, first implemented in Chicago as part of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, can be adapted to our situation.
The CeaseFire Project is being piloted in Hanover Park by the Western Cape Department of Community Safety and the City of Cape Town and is being run as an element of the City's Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) initiative. VPUU addresses violence through infrastructure upgrades, social programmes, social crime prevention, job creation, training and engagement through partnerships with the community. The city is expanding the range of elements which it explored during the VPUU pilot in Khayelitsha and is looking at several additional technologies, social crime prevention programmes and enforcement strategies as part of this second roll-out of VPUU.
CeaseFire approaches violence in a fundamentally different way as it focuses on conflict mediation, street-level outreach, the changing of behaviour and the changing of overall community norms. CeaseFire does not aim to stop gang belonging, but aims to stop the shootings by dissuading gang members and others from settling their disputes through killings and gun violence.
The project works with community-based organisations and relies on trained outreach workers and violence interrupters to promote alternatives to violence. It has proven very successful in numerous locations such as the US, the Caribbean and even Iraq. This week's training phase follows months of planning and continued engagement with the community through the established Hanover Park Stakeholder Forum. CeaseFire also involves co-operation from the South African Police Service (SAPS) and SAPS have been involved in the planning of the project from the start.
A pool of 24 applicants from the community who all meet the criteria to potentially act as outreach workers or violence interrupters will receive training. Factors like local knowledge, credibility, discipline, a good understanding of gang culture and a certain degree of "streetwiseness" will all be considered to determine the suitability of candidates for the different roles.
We know that focused policing and effective prison sentences are crucial in addressing the problem of gang violence, but law enforcement agencies cannot do it alone. Traditional responses to violence furthermore do little to change the underlying conditions that give rise to shootings and killings in gang-plagued areas. This is why we are exploring CeaseFire as an additional option available to us which has proven to be viable and cost-effective elsewhere.