Multi-pronged approach to tackle xenophobic, gang-related violence
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says government is deploying a number of strategies to respond to the recent wave of civil unrest linked to xenophobia and drug and gang-related violence.
Addressing the National Assembly during a question and answer session on Thursday, the Deputy President said the civil unrest occurred in places that were plagued by socio-economic challenges like poverty, unemployment and inequality.
“Government’s response to these challenges is therefore multi-faceted and multi-pronged.
“The response involves not only the organs of the state, but also civil society formations, community groupings and individual citizens,” he said.
The Deputy President said the approach to the challenges can be seen in government’s new national strategy against gangsterism, which was approved by Cabinet on 1 March 2017.
He said government, in developing the strategy, undertook a diagnostic process which confirmed that gangsterism is rooted in socio-economic conditions, and is therefore not merely a law enforcement issue.
“The strategy places communities at the centre of efforts to prevent and combat gangsterism.
“It aims to empower communities by addressing human development, social cohesion, unemployment, poverty and inequality.
“It prioritises social partnerships with civil society, the private sector and other stakeholders,” he said.
He also said that the strategy aims to prevent gangsterism through improved spatial design and creating safe living spaces for communities.
The strategies, the Deputy President said, would be implemented alongside other effective law enforcement strategies.
“A comprehensive inter-sectoral implementation plan for the strategy has been finalised, engagement with stakeholders is underway, and implementation at the security cluster level has begun.”
The Deputy President said a similar approach has been taken in responding to xenophobic violence.
In recent marches in Pretoria, protests turned violent when locals clashed with foreign nationals during what was reportedly a march against violence.
The Deputy President said the attacks against foreign nationals required interventions at a policy level, through community engagement, and through crime combatting and prevention.
“Guided by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration chaired by Minister Radebe, a multi-pronged strategy is underway.
“South Africa’s immigration and refugee policy is being reviewed.
“The better management of refugees through, among other things, the establishment of asylum processing centres closer to the country's northern borders, is being explored.”
Integration policy for foreign nationals
Meanwhile, the Deputy President said another area that government is looking into was the development of an integration policy for foreign nationals living legally in South Africa and ongoing, sustained dialogue with representatives of immigrant communities.
He said through Operation Fiela, the security cluster has undertaken intensive crime combatting and prevention operations targeting hot-spot areas in all provinces.
“This has taken place alongside briefings to councillors on their role in preventing attacks; engagement with churches, NGOs, political parties, traditional organisations and community based structures; engagement with immigrant communities; and public campaigns to prevent attacks on foreign nationals.
“At the same time, government continues to work against xenophobia, racism, sexism and other related intolerances through izimbizo, community conversation and campaigns.”
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