By Jonk wa Mashamba
At the launch of the Alexandra Masiphephe Network on November 25, Alexandra Police Station Commander Brigadier Magudulela said the war on crime needed the whole community.
The event, honored by His Majesty King Bhungane III, CPF President Chris Mabunda, traditional healers, civil servants, among others, took place in Sankopano Hall.
Speaking of crime against women and children, Magudulela said that from April to September 2021, murder statistics, which occurred in Alex, stood at 83 percent.
The event also marked the start of 16 days of activism against gender violence with a global theme “Orange the world: End violence against women now!”
South African’s theme is – “Count me in: Together moving a non-violent South Africa forward.”
She said the high rate of crime in Alexandra indicated that police were not visible. “As much as the police are not there, that’s where Masiphephe comes in.”
Magudulela said that combating crime requires traditional leadership.
She said that when she was at the Jeppe police station, she had always been faced with escalating crime until some king came to her rescue.
Magudulela said that traditional leaders play a pivotal role in the fight against crime and stressed that they should be recognized.
“When they arrive, crime stops,” she said.
While thanking Gogo Brenda Sibiya for launching the Masiphephe Network, she asked the community to set up screening committees that will help the CPF.
She commended the women who took part in the recent prayer session held on London road, and noted that the 13th and 8th avenues on London road were hot spots for crime.
She spoke of female motorists as a daily target. ” You cannot drive there without being robbed.”
She was really disturbed by the recent deaths of three learners in Alex, advising that mothers were supposed to watch their children who always walked in groups with golf clubs and knives.
Magudulela pointed out that when a GBV case is opened at her branch, it will never be canceled.
The launch had the following main aims:
To introduce Masiphephe Network to the entire community and its partners;
To introduce the Alexandra Masiphephe Network Steering Committee and its role and portfolios officially launched.
(The portfolios are: Accountability, coordination and leadership; Child Rights and Child Participation; Justice, Safety and Protection; Response, Care, Support and Healing; and Research and Information Management);
To launch a comprehensive calendar of all the Masiphephe Network partners’ 16 Days of Activism activities for all partners and community members to participate in and benefit from;
And to launch a referral chart for the internal use by the Network and community members for self-referral.
The year 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of the Global Sixteen (16) Days of No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, also known as the 16 Days of Activism Campaign.
It is an annual international campaign that was initiated by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership
South Africa adopted the campaign in 1998 as one of the intervention strategies towards creating a society free of violence.
According to Crime Statistics, from January to March 2021 Alexandra police station recorded excessively high numbers of reported sexual offences at 94% increase from January to March 2021.
Alexandra Police Station is ranking first (1st) among Gauteng police stations and sixth (6th) in national top thirty police stations of reported sexual offences cases in the recent fourth quarter police statistics reports compared to the same period in 2020 and previous years.
In research conducted by GHJRU in the year 2018/2019 it was highlighted that Alexandra does not have enough services to cater for the community of Alexandra, there are only five (5) clinics which cater for the population of over 175 000, survivors of GBV use same clinics. Challenges of safety are including areas with long grass, no lights and passages in between homes.
A few challenges on pathways to justice for survivors include the lack of one stop services for sexual violence and the delayed justice.
The reality of violence in Alexandra town is informed by various issues that emerge from the community due to of high density and sharing of communal spaces.
Lack of space and privacy contributes to residents being forced to share washing lines, toilets and verandas, etc. This kind of setting easily cause conflicts that have reportedly led to violent situations. Due to normalisation of such behaviours, these conflicts have increased and interventions to address these are not prioritised. Reports of stakeholders that respond to such conflicts, highlight the importance of interventions linked the two Alexandra Masiphephe Network Technical Working Groups (TWG) – Social Behavioural Change Programmes and Pathways to Justice.
ABOUT THE MASIPHEPHE NETWORK
According to founder member, gogo Brenda Sibiya, the Masiphephe Network is a network of service providers in Alexandra that are working together to reduce vulnerability to Gender Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) through improved local governance and service delivery.
“The strategic objective is to strengthen the capacity of local structures to lead, coordinate, cultivate and sustain multisectoral action; and manage a community response to GBVF prevention and mitigation according to lived experience,” says Sibiya.