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Violence Prevention Unit created to reduce violence across the Western Cape

A night spent with paramedics, Grant October and Rushaana Gallow, of the Cape Metropole: Southern Division Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

A night spent with paramedics, Grant October and Rushaana Gallow, of the Cape Metropole: Southern Division Emergency Medical Service (EMS). Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 15, 2022


Cape Town – In what Premier Alan Winde has touted as a first in the country, a Violence Prevention Unit is to be established in the Western Cape Department of Health.

Winde made the announcement in his State of the Province Address (Sopa) on Tuesday, explaining that the dedicated Violence Prevention Unit will be the first violence prevention unit established by a government in South Africa.

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He added that while this dedicated violence prevention unit will be responsible for identifying and designing interventions to reduce violence in communities across the province, they will leverage an all-of-society approach to implementing these initiatives.

“Our health department tracks data that can help us better understand violence, including alcohol-related harms, gender-based violence or children at risk of violence to name a few.

“The department has already adopted a public health approach to address many health problems. And, as the holder of one of our core competencies, this department has the size, reach and capacity to put real momentum behind this project,” Winde said.

He added that the approach taken to adopt this public health endeavour is based on the Cardiff Model of Violence Prevention.

“This model, which has seen great success in other regions in the world, requires a data-led, evidence-based approach to crime and violence prevention, with data down to geographic-level determining localised interventions that are required to reduce violence.

“We have combined this with the many evidence-based lessons from the World Health Organization and other local knowledge, which has given us clear guidance on what works to reduce violence,” Winde said.

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“If we are to halve our murder rate by 2029, we need to take this violence prevention component of our plan to the next level. We indeed need to rethink, focus and innovate in this space too, so that we push back against going back to normal, and push forward to do even better.

He said that this initiative will also be done in conjunction with partners at local and national-levels, and that specifically, through the area-based teams, which will be coordinated by this new unit.

“This focus on violence prevention will also include tackling our province’s deadly relationship with alcohol, which as our pioneering HECTIS-monitoring and surveillance programme demonstrates is a major cause for violent crime in our province,” Winde said.

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He added that the provincial cabinet has adopted a gender-based violence (GBV) implementation plan, and that key interventions have been identified and agreed upon to be prioritised by all 13 heads of departments.

"We are fully committed to implementing this plan and will constantly review it so that it is improved. But fighting the scourge of GBV cannot be the responsibility of the government alone.

“The pervasive nature of this violence means that every single organisation, be it private or public, needs its own GBV implementation plan.”

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Some other highlights from speech that focused on the on recovery of the province’s comprehensive health services included the following:

  • The province plans to not de-escalate important health services for Covid-19 again.
  • The Western Cape plans to invest in additional resources to ensure a catch-up in surgeries.
  • The province plans use new technology, such as the da Vinci Xi fourth generation robot at Groote Schuur and Tygerberg hospitals for minimally invasive surgery to help reduce the backlog.
  • It also plans to invest in its mental health facilities to ensure they can respond to the increased demand.
  • The province plans to expand its telehealth call centre services to include TB contact-tracing, and increase its awareness campaigns to ensure improved TB testing rates.
  • It will also focus on its policy approach of leveraging private-public partnerships for the achievement of Universal Healthcare Coverage, and will explore a pilot project to showcase how it works.
  • The province plans focus on supporting the vulnerable with improved social services, using an all-of-society approach
  • The province plans to fund a new homeless shelter in the Cape Town CBD, at the former Robbie Nurock Clinic, to provide support to an additional 120 homeless adults. This is in addition to increasing the number of homeless shelter beds to 2 500 by March, 2022.
  • It also plans to provide funding for the operation of a new safe space in Drakenstein, in partnership with the municipality. And they have ensured that funded shelters are provided for psycho-social support and reunification services.

Read Premier Alan Winde’s full State of the Province speech below:

Cape Argus