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City and UCT work together to tackle gang violence in Hanover Park

Hanover Park is widely considered to be one of the communities in Cape Town most affected by gang violence. To help reduce this, the City of Cape Town and a range of civil society and community organisations have been researching solutions.

In this regard, the City’s Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) initiative and the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Safety and Violence Initiative (SaVI) organised a full-day seminar yesterday, 8 November 2012 at the University of Cape Town to discuss youth programmes and lower-risk lifestyle support programmes that could reduce and prevent violence in Hanover Park.

The seminar brought together representatives from community groups, structures, and non-governmental organisations in Hanover Park; academics; City and Provincial Government officials; and representatives from the South African Police Services.

The seminar follows on from the completion of VPUU’s recent baseline survey in Hanover Park and the recent introduction of the Cure Violence Model (also known as Ceasefire), which seeks to reduce gang-related shootings within Hanover Park. Central to this model are ‘violence interrupters’, namely trained individuals who intervene in crises, mediate disputes between individuals, and intercede on group disputes to prevent violence.

The Cure Violence model has been devised by the Department of Public Health at the University of Illinois in the United States of America, and seeks to address short- and long-term crime prevention in the context of gang-related killings. The Cure Violence model has reportedly reduced violence in “every [Chicago] neighbourhood it operates in by up to 34 per cent…[and] successfully cut retaliatory homicides by 100 per cent.”

For more information on the Cure Violence model visit:

During the seminar there was a vibrant discussion between community members, City and Provincial Government officials and academics about creative solutions to respond to gang violence in Hanover Park. Community members and community-based organisations provided participants with a nuanced and intricate analysis of violence-related issues in the area. VPUU and Provincial Government officials emphasised their intention to work closely with community groups and structures in the implementation of violence reduction and prevention measures. Academics offered insights into various models and approaches to violence reduction and prevention that had been used in other contexts.

The Cure Violence Model was extensively discussed and debated, with some participants expressing support, while some others were concerned about the applicability of such a model for Hanover Park given the political, socio-economic and historical complexities of the area. The seminar concluded with agreement by participants that in order for violence reduction and prevention to be more effectively pursued on the Cape Flats, partnerships and networks between communities, City and Provincial Government officials, as well as academics need to be established and maintained.

The VPUU initiative is part of the City’s holistic approach to tackling gang violence, which includes its Gang Unit, Housing Safety Unit, the provision of School Resource Officers and Neighbourhood Safety Officers in various areas and use of cutting-edge gunfire detection technology.

About the VPUU
VPUU implements an integrated strategy combining:

  • Situational crime prevention: changing the fractured built environment into integrated human settlements
  • Social crime prevention: transforming the harmful social culture of the past into a caring culture that rejects violence, limits opportunities for offenders, and supports victims
  • Institutional crime prevention: supporting local organisations to take ownership of spaces and supporting the City to start integrated planning, budgeting, and the implementation of projects. So-called Safe Node Areas are envisaged in Harare, Kuyasa, and Site C. The VPUU programme is concurrently being expanded to include Manenberg, Hanover Park, Nyanga and Gugulethu

From the VPUU perspective, implementing the Cure Violence Model in Hanover Park forms part of a comprehensive approach that is based on community participation, and includes situational crime prevention (urban design, buildings, lighting, landscaping) and institutional crime prevention (management and maintenance of public facilities, leadership development, economic development).

Social Crime Prevention within VPUU looks to work on three themes:

  • Longer-term crime prevention
  • Community cohesion-building
  • Protection and support for victims of crime or violence

This overview and these themes come from an intervention model that was developed in the set-up phase of VPUU in Khayelitsha, based on best practice and successful interventions from around the world.

During Phase 3 of VPUU, the social preparation including the establishment of a local VPUU Project Steering Committee, a Community Issues Workshop, Baseline Survey and the development of a Community Action Plan will be completed.

Hanover Park is the first area in which City staff members will take the lead during the implementation with specific task-based support from the VPUU/AHT-SUN team. The Community Action Plan will identify relevant built interventions, and an integrated team will be developed with existing, new and local providers, so as to align services to the Community Action Plan. VPUU will provide the relevant experience from Khayelitsha as background.

About SaVI
SaVI was established at the University of Cape Town in April 2011 as a key university imperative through the Vice Chancellor's Strategic Fund. SaVI facilitates debate, research and interventions across the university on understanding and responding to violence as well as promoting safety. SaVI brings together scholars from various UCT entities. The vision of SaVI is to work towards a safe South Africa, where freedom and safety are the norm, rather than the exception. Its mission is to establish research collaboration that will contribute to promoting safety, reducing violence; and to raise awareness about these issues within South Africa.

Published by the City of Cape Town.
© City of Cape Town, 2016