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Establishment of Community Safety Forum for the Greater Oudtshoorn

Oudtshoorn, 22 February 2023 – Oudtshoorn Municipality in collaboration with Garden Route District Municipality hosted the launch of the Community Safety Forum as well as the Municipal Safety Plan Review workshop on 16 and 17 February 2023, where role players and stakeholders formed a partnership to establish a platform for the coordination, integration and implementation of multi-sectoral prevention and community safety initiatives.

The workshop aimed to establish a forum with key role players that are a community-based initiative which aims to reduce crime, build awareness, and develop communities into safer places to live and work. Key role players included the Western Cape Government Department of Community Safety, Department of Social Development and South African Police Service (SAPS), as well as different sectors of Government Departments, Non-Governmental Organisation and many more.

The purpose of the launch of the Community Safety Forum and the Review of the Safety Plan was to clearly outline the Municipality’s role as well as the role of the other stakeholders in relation to Community Safety and to identify key priority areas and strategic actions to undertake.

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996 states “that a municipality must ensure a safe and healthy environment for its community within its financial capacity” and within the discussions by various speakers, Brigadier Crafford who represented SAPS stated that safety is not the sole responsibility of SAPS, but a collective effort. Community safety is about more than just the level of crime that exists but also about the community’s perceived level of safety. Crafford mentioned a few practical examples of offences that takes place within the community ranging from murders to gender-based violence and challenges that SAPS are dealing with on a day to day basis.

During the two-day session, different sectors offered valuable contributions through presentations on how the different sectors are linked together when it comes to the safety of the community and affirmations and collective commitments to make the established Community Safety Forum a success by identifying strategies for the forum, including functional infrastructure, supporting growing service delivery demand, the increased ability to create value for customers, streamlining processes, the human capacity to deliver and functional leadership team.

Mr Luyanda Fatuse, acting director of Community Services said “We must be mutually committed to serving and supporting the community to sustain a safe living environment that ensures safety, peace and justice through our working in partnerships with all other stakeholders to enhance a safe living and working environment through commitment.

Fatuse added that strategies for community safety include an integrated approach towards combating crime, the responsibility of community safety is not only the responsibility of the police and municipal law enforcement but that of organised businesses, other government institutions and non-governmental organisations. “We must work together with community partners within all wards across the municipal area to effectively modify the model of this collective initiative to best suit our various sector, ward needs and resources”.

Mr Mzwandile Hewu, Chief Director of the Department of Social Development from the Western Cape Government, said during his presentation that the reason that all stakeholders must collaborate is “to deliver quality government services to all South Africans, to have uniform standards in the delivery of services; and to deliver services informed by the respective professional codes of ethics”. Hewu further stated that the vision of the Western Cape Government is to continually improve the lives of the people of South Africa through a transformed public service, which is representative, coherent, transparent, efficient, effective, accountable and responsive to the needs of all.

The attendees of the Community Safety Summit split into groups on the final day to brainstorm on the importance of law enforcement, social cohesion, open spaces and urban design when it comes to community safety.  After the review of the Community Safety Plan, measures are being put in place now to finalize it to make the plan well-drafted and consultative. A well-executed safety plan is crucial as it put mechanisms in place for proactive planning and response.

As a collective, the attendees agreed that there is too much vandalism, too many deaths, and too much substance abuse for these sectors not to take a stand and show the community that they are serious with this task at hand, with the help of the community.

Part of the task of the Community Safety Forum is to make sure that law enforcement, police and traffic are visible.  If people see that traffic is all around town, there would be less driving under the influence, and if police and law enforcement are regularly visible, people would find it very hard to steal and assault. The community therefore would be more cautious and you will find less crime will be committed.

The motto of the Community Safety Forum is Prevention, Protection, Preparedness. And Partnership. The slogan is “Partnering with our Community to prevent the predictable, protect where vulnerable and prepare for the unpredictable with our other partners”.