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Lester September
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Zille's 2015 SOPA thin on ways to tackle alcohol abuse

30 September 2015, 10:03

While Premier Helen Zille has acknowledged in her SOPA, that Alcohol Abuse is the biggest single threat to achieving wellness, safety and reducing social ills in the Western Cape, her SOPA 2015, lacked detail, political will, and hopelessly failed to inspire hope for change.

The dearth of specifics on her “design laboratories” concept, which will put together a detailed plan to tackle alcohol abuse, does not engender confidence, while one has to ask ‘why only now?’ as there has been loads of research and proposals over the years that have been ignored. Why not implement recommendations made by experts and academics, such as that from the head of her own Health Department, Prof Craig Househam, to reduce the City of Cape town’s liquor trading hours for licensed pubs and liquor stores, and have the Liquor Authority heed objections to liquor licence applications from communities suffering from high levels of social ills, while getting social workers to play a more prominent role in creating safer communities.

Premier Zille, is correct that province has no jurisdiction over SAPS, but incorrectly implies that provincial departments have a limited mandate, to improve safety. This flies in the face of video analysis of our 2013/ 2014 crime trends from the Institute for Security Studies (ISSAfrica) which reveals that “Police can only play a small role in curbing crime”, and that there exists a “far greater role for social workers, teachers and other government departments”, which gives both provincial and City of Cape Town departments a bigger role in creating safety.

It is not suggested that when a crime is committed, police and the courts should not act speedily, efficiently and effectively, however the ISSAfrica crime stat 2012/ 2013 and 2013/ 2014 factsheets states that there are a large number of crimes police cannot be expected to prevent, while the current approach taken tends “to look for solutions in the wrong places.”

An interview with Mr Charles Goredema, former senior researcher at the Institute of Security Studies, focusing on research he headed, “The Drug Trade and Governance in Cape Town”, revealed that the solution was at grassroots level where social workers should intervene in dysfunctional families.

Researchers have found however that the Western Cape Department of Social Development’s (DSD), social workers are not performing their duties, where they simply don’t come out over weekends, at night and are not dealing with long standing domestic violence cases. Our engagement with NGO’s and individuals such as Dr EV Rapiti (who runs a drug rehabilitation support group), have found that social workers are one of the main reasons for the clogging up of the court roll as they will arrive late to court (sometimes not at all), and in most cases are unprepared, while many are not properly trained to appear as expert witnesses.

Statements made by MEC for Community Safety Dan Plato remain a concern where he seemingly only focuses on gang violence and the police’s role in curbing this scourge, and less on social development interventions which will address the root causes of gang recruitment. Where he should be emphasising alcohol abuse, as one of the main causes of dysfunctional families; which exposes children to gang recruitment and/ or substance abuse.

Violence prevention policies have in fact been launched, but similar to the police, social workers are overworked, have too many cases and feel overwhelmed, as not enough are employed to deal with the large number of cases. Training of auxiliary social workers have been undertaken, however many have not been appointed by DSD. This has resulted in an excess of social workers in the West Coast where a large number of auxiliary social workers are working as checkout cashiers, with a knock-on effect of social workers being more reactive than proactive in engaging social ills. Social workers need to be empowered, to be more proactive and effective, while funding must be made available for the training and recruitment of additional auxiliary social workers.

Prof Househam’s presentation published by the World Health Organisation states that the “Apartheid legacy of social exclusion and multiple deprivation” contributes to high levels of substance abuse.

To this Premier Zille finally acknowledges Cape Town’s apartheid legacy, in her so-called final “game changer”, being the improvement of spatial integration in Cape Town, but her claim of “.... an acute shortage of well-located and affordable housing closer to the central business district (CBD) makes this situation worse”, reads more like an excuse and does not speak to the reversing of apartheid spatial planning. Instead she seems to justify the perpetuation of the current design, where she cherry picks around this politically sensitive topic, concentrating rather on improvements to services and public transport.

Studies on urban design has also clearly shown that, current town planning, which crams previously disadvantaged communities together on the Cape Flats exacerbates social ills, such as substance abuse and gangsterism, where these are reflective of a dysfunctional society. In fact the ISSAfrica crime stat factsheet, not only mentions providing services, but also that support must be provided to parents and counselling must be offered to those affected by violence, where violence should not be accepted as normal. It discloses that the “detrimental effect of apartheid social engineering on families” and society remains stubbornly persistent. Thus simply providing improved services and public transport, are purely superficial without social development interventions and the reversing of apartheid spatial planning.

We support the call for a study on the effectiveness of the Provinces and the City’s liquor policy, which has solely concentrated on policing, targeting shebeens and less on mandates that they cover such as early warning initiatives with provincial and city social workers leading the fight to create a safe society, but including provincial and city health, education and other departments, e.g. Liquor Authority and town planners etc.


Prof Craig Househam (WC Dept of Health): Violence Prevention –the WC Burden of Disease Reduction Project

Police can only play a small role in curbing crime, eg alternatives is identifying early warning interventions by Dr Chandre Gould

Reducing violence is not only the role of the police, far greater role for social workers, teachers and other government departments can play to reduce violent crime by Mr Gareth Newham

Institute of Security Studies crime statistics factsheet 2013/2014

Institute of Security Studies crime statistics factsheet 2012/2013

Global Urbanist Journal - “The city [Cape Town] continues to display signs of inverse densification, where the peripheries are densifying much faster than the inner suburbs, a lasting symptom of the country’s harshly divided spatial history.This unequal layout not only perpetuates historical divides but also excludes the majority of the population from integrating themselves productively and regularly into the city’s economic and social functions.”. Read full article -

NextCity (Rockerfeller Foundation) - Cape Town is having trouble undoing the land-use consequences of those long-ago decisions.... because, Cape Town is caught between two competing interests: Undoing its Apartheid legacy, and courting developers. Read full article -"

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