Local solutions from local people : community participation in crime prevention in Khayelitsha
The involvement of local communities in crime prevention programmes emerged as an alternative strategy for fighting and preventing crime after the failure of the criminal justice system to control and deter criminal activities effectively. Governments across the globe regard local communities as key actors in fighting and preventing crime. Community participation in crime prevention has become a key strategy to improve safety and security. The main aim of this study is to explore the extent to which residents of Khayelitsha contribute to the maintenance of security and order in their area; and to investigate the extent to which residents are empowered to solve crime problems on their own. The framework of this study is grounded on theories of crime namely: occupational choice, social learning, and social disorganisation; and concepts such as crime, crime prevention, and community participation. The literature review of this study focuses crime situation in South Africa with emphasis on crime trends, costs of crime, determinants of crime, and attempts made by the South African government to fight and prevent crime at national and local government levels. The study used key informant in-depth interviews with representatives of anti-crime community-based organisations in Site B and as well as ordinary residents of Site B. Data of this study is largely qualitative although it is supplemented with quantitative data relating to crime statistics which was collected as secondary data. In this study, both narratives and crime statistics reveal that robbery and theft-related crimes, drug abuse, and assaults are among the most predominant crimes. All informants perceived poverty and the use of drugs and alcohol as root causes of crime in Site B. The residents contribute in preventing and fighting crime in Site B by engaging in the following activities: patrolling streets as volunteers in Community Policing Forums (CPF); and providing crimerelated information to anti-crime organisations such as South African Police Service (SAPS), South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), and Khayelitsha Development Forum (KDF). The residents also get involved in crime prevention informally by exercising informal social sanctions. However, challenges such as ineffectiveness of the law enforcement and lack of financial support hinder the residents’ participation in crime prevention.