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Monique Marks
School of Social Work and Community Development University of KwaZulu-Natal marks@ukzn.ac.za Debby Bonnin School of Sociology and Social Studies University of KwaZulu-Natal bonnin@ukzn.ac.za

Drawing on research work conducted in the city of Durban, this article demonstrates that, to a large extent, policing functions are being carried out by agents other than the police. The article explores community safety groupings operating in three diverse areas in the greater Durban area. We demonstrate in this article that these groups have divergent mentalities and technologies, but that they share common goals and outcomes. We argue that community cohesion and social action have a positive impact on localised feelings of safety and pride of place. What we also show is that there oppears to be a shared understanding on the part of the police and community groupings that the police should operate as 'minimalist' actors. We argue that instead of trying to be all things to all people - the hub of broad security governance - the state police should hone in on their core functions and intervene when communities request such intervention. This would allow the police to be more effective, community oriented and targeted in the work they do. Keywords: Durban, community safety groupings, local security governance, minimalist policing, street committees

Low crime societies are societies where people do not mind their own business, where tolerance of deviance has definite limits, where communities prefer to handle their own crime problems rather than hand them over to professionals. In this, I am not suggesting the replacement of 'rule of law' with the 'rule of men'. However, 1 am saying that the rule of law will amount

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Generating Safety from Below: Community Safety Groups ...

to a meaningless set of formal sanctioning proceedings which will be perceived as arbitrary unless there is community involvement in oralizing about and helping with the crime problem. (Braithwaite 1989: 8)

Australian critninologist John Braithwaite argues that the governance of policing simply cannot be left to the public police. On their own, they never have, and never will, be able to create safe communities (Shearing 2007). As Braithwaite suggests, the police are important actors, but their work will come to nothing if community members do not identify with and play a role in finding solutions to safety problems. Community cohesion is important in enhancing local safety, although the police must be seen as key actors. This argument is in line with the recent work of Thatcher, who argued that policing (particularly community policing) can take place without the police. Indeed, it often does. However, Thatcher makes the point that the police have a 'unique responsibility for the legitimate exercise of coercive force, and that capacity provides an indispensable foundation for the success of whatever level of supplementary informal social control society ought to encourage' (2009: 69). The onus on public police organisations (with the guidance and assistance of local govemment agencies) is to resource, skill-up and train their officers to be knowledge brokers (Ericson 1994), facilitators and experts in the discretionary enforcement of law and the production of social order. The police, trained in due process and legal frameworks, need to play a central role in ensuring that the use of force and the curtailment of freedom (arrest, detention, etc) are always conducted in a manner that protects democratic rights and follows legal procedures. As Zedner correctly asserts, the police are a public body and must be the key agency responsible for delineating and upholding 'the normative structures essential both to protect the public interest in policing and maintain the ligatures of civil society' (2006: 93). Or, put another way, the state should play a role as guarantor of the public interest within a plural policing system (Loader & Walker 2007). The empirical research that underpins this article was conducted in Durban in 2008/2009, looking at the ways in which three community groups (described below) come together to generate local safety. What this article demonstrates is that much of everyday policing is, indeed, not carried out by the police. Instead, community safety groups in diverse neighbourhoods are the most active agents (or nodes) responsible for creating safer spaces. These groups take on very different forms and are engaged in varying activities to solve the sticky problem of insecurity. The article has three objectives: the first section maps out what community safety groups are doing in the Durban area. The second provides insight into police interactions with local community groups. Lastly, we try to provide some answers (based on contemporary realities and theorisations) about what the role of the police should be in a world where community members do not 'mind their own business', but are recognised co-producers of safety generation.


Monique Marks and Debby Bonnin

The article is premised on the assumption that the public police will never be able to realise their dream of monopolising the policing landscape (Marks, Shearing & Wood 2009). The article argues, no doubt controversially, that in a world of polycentric, nodal security governance, the role of the public police should be 'minimalist' (Menkhaus 2007) or 'minimal' (Kinsey et al. 1986). The police must exist as an 'or else' (last resort) agency (Thatcher 2009), given that they have symbolic and legal capital in the governance of security (Marks & Wood 2007). This normative argument reflects current realities. It also resonates with the thinking of both the police and community safety group members in Durban. The argument presented is not a new one in the African context: the long history and prevalence of plural or nodal policing is well documented in Bruce Baker's (2009) book entitled Security in a Post-Conflict Africa: The Role of Nonstate Policing. Based on six years of fieldwork in various African countries. Baker argues that in much of Africa the state police are not able (or sometimes willing) to provide adequate protection to citizens. As a result, non-state policing has proliferated and what we have in this part of the world is 'muhi-choice' policing, where citizens choose among community groups, the public police, traditional authorities and commercial security companies to provide security services. This reality demands new thinking about policing arrangements and systems of accountability. As Baker (2009) put it, what we ideally want is optimal security governance, regardless of who delivers that service.


In his recent book. Thin Blue., Jonny Steinberg (2008) made the point that communities in South Africa shy away from being policed by the public police. This, he believes, is because the police continue to lack legitimacy and demonstrate a poor record in combating crime and maintaining order. Through a detailed ethnography he documents the daily interactions of police with local community members. For Steinberg, the interface between police and communities has become a 'script'. The script, he says, is written by the audience (communities) rather than the scriptwriters (the police). When the police fail to say the right lines, they are thrown off the stage and the audience (community members) become the actors. Steinberg describes how communities across South Africa (both rich and poor) have come together to protect themselves. Their defence is neighbourly cohesion, sometimes expressed as ethnic solidarity and sometimes based on political or traditional ties. In Steinberg's view, community initiatives have led to real reductions in crime and disorder. The police are there, but they reside in the wings of the neighbourhood stage. Steinberg's book brings to fore the complexities of policing in South Africa and demonstrates that security governance is carried out by a range of actors whose relationships to one another are ever changing and contested. Thin Blue draws (perhaps implicitly) on the work of criminologists such as Clifford Shearing, who argued that South African criminology has been somewhat 'blinded by the state-centred view of

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governance that excludes, or at least obscures, private governments' (2006: 12). He contends that those interested in the governance of security - in South Africa and beyond - need to move outside of this narrow way of thinking. This is because, in his view, dominant state-centred understandings not only constrain a proper understanding of what is really going on in the governance of security, they also limit our normative visions. Throughout the world, there is a growing acknowledgement that there are a 'myriad of private and hybrid providers' (Dupont 2006: 86) of policing services. As Zedner (2006) argues, policing has operated as a 'mixed economy' for at least the past three centuries. Security mapping in both developed and less developed countries reveals that there is a fluid coalescence of state, municipal, private and voluntary policing. South Africa is no exception to these empirical and theoretical observations. Indeed, as this article demonstrates, it is an excellent example of the pluralisation of the field of policing. The organisational field of policing is now characterised by a range of 'nodes' or institutional actors with variable stmctures, legal statuses, resources, mentalities and technologies (Dupont 2006: 86). The demand for security exceeds the capacity of govemment to provide it (Wood 2006a). A more nodal or 'networked' approach to goveming policing and security does and could provide for greater effectiveness and a broader reach in terms of service delivery (Rhodes 2006). This does not mean that the public police would, or should, recede into the background - indeed, nodal arrangements may give rise to renewed attempts on the part of the public police to assert their centrality (Dupont 2006). Instead, a nodal framework calls for defined and articulated roles and functions for all nodal actors. The shape that localised networked or nodal security arrangements takes varies dramatically, as state actors (the police in this case) select where to intervene and how to assert their authority (Crawford 2006a). The criminology literature suggests that while non-state actors are encouraged to participate in their own security govemance, they are not always adequately supported in their attempts. Nodal actors may even compete with one another for resources, legitimacy and ownership (Baker 2009; Dupont 2006). Nodal govemance theorists 'challenge the proposition that state-centred govemance models are a necessary and sufficient precondition for democratic transformation' (Wood 2006b: 218). Instead, they assert that pluralised govemance has the potential to produce good normative outcomes - for instance, non-police entities (in particular, traditionally marginalised ones) could be given the space to develop innovative ways of responding to security problems. This would, in tum, generate more active participation by nonstate actors in govemance issues and enhance deliberative democratic engagement (Wood & Shearing 2007).


Monique Marks and Debby Bonnin


In November 2008, the authors of this article were commissioned to do a small research project by Imagine Durban, a council-led project based in the eThekwini municipality, which focuses on long-term planning for the City of Durban. Imagine Durban is primarily concemed with mobilising communities, business people, govemment, NGOs, etc. to think creatively about what Durban can and should look like in the future. One o Imagine Durban's key foci is to find innovative ways of creating a safer city. Since safety was such an important aspect of imagining a better city. Imagine Durban decided to support a research-based project that looked at how communities were coming together to make their local spaces safer. In investigating how communities come together to enhance security, we focused on three different neighbourhoods where community safety groups were already operating. We wanted to find out how these community safety groups came together; what their objectives are; how they work toward achieving those objectives; and their relationship to other safety actors or security nodes - particularly the police. Three geographic areas were selected where such community safety groups currently exist: Newlands East, PalmRidge' and Warwick Triangle. Newlands East, a lower middle-/working-class residential area historically demarcated for 'coloured' people, is now home to a more wide-ranging racial spectmm of people. Newlands East was selected because thefirst(ANC-aligned) street committees in KwaZulu-Natal were publicly launched there. The launch was presided over by Jacob Zuma, and reports in the press indicated that the station commissioner in the area had given strong support to the initiative. The second area selected was PalmRidge, a middle-class area that falls within the broader suburbs of Berea and Overport. Residents have established a strong and well-organised neighbourhood association known as the PalmRidge Neighbourhood Association. The third area selected was Warwick Triangle, which is a bustling transport node and trading district, largely comprising informal traders. It is also home to a sizable number of working-class residents. For more than a decade, traders in Warwick Triangle have come together to try to make the area a safer place in which to trade and live. The initial safety grouping was called Traders Against Crime (TAC). An offspring of TAC now refers to itself as the Warwick Triangle Community Policing Fomm, although it has little real association with legislated community policing fomms. Traders in Warwick Triangle formed these groups as a way of making the area safer, enhancing trading and providing security to customers in this busy metropolitan space. These three areas are not the only ones in which cotnmunity members are taking the lead in creating safer environments. Indeed, throughout Durban, and South Africa more generally, numerous local communities have come together to create associations with the key objective of making their neighbourhoods safer. There are daily reports in the press about neighbourhood watches, street patrols, neighbourhood associations and


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Other groups actively involved in delivering services that are traditionally viewed as the work ofthe police. Taking guidance from the work of Shearing, Dupont, and others cited above, the authors of this article 'mapped out' the different ways in which communities come together and work with a range of other security 'nodes' to generate safety outcomes. The three different areas were identified to find out more about local, bottom-up responses to crime and feelings of insecurity. The aim was to discover how community-directed initiatives align with other safety nodes - particularly the public police. During the period November 2008 and May 2009, the authors talked to leaders and members of the community groups mentioned, attended their meetings and met with private security personnel and police officers who operated in the police jurisdictions within which these groups fell. What emerged from these interviews and observations is that govemment institutions, like the police, have a limited capacity to provide safe, secure and healthy communities without effectively networking with community and other groups, such as private security agencies and NGOs. Fictitious names are used in this article, to protect the individuals interviewed.


Community safety groups come in diverse shapes: some groups or associations organise whole wards, others organise sections of suburbs (blocks) and yet others are more inclined to get together people who live or work along one street. What the leaders of these groups suggested is that it is generally most effective to begin by organising smaller groups (in streets) and then allowing the process to spread. Once one street is organised, and residents in the model street are seen as being sociable, caring and alert, adjoining areas will be keen to follow suit. The names given to these groups are equally diverse: street committees, neighbourhood associations, street patrols, community policing forums and neighbourhood watches. The name given generally reflects what the group hopes to do and to achieve. While their foci differed from area to area, the overall objectives of the three groups were much the same. In broad terms the objectives of these groups were to 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. develop activities/projects/programmes geared toward making the local area safer; build a sense of community cohesion at the local level; develop a sense of pride in the neighbourhood; ensure that local communities have an organised grouping that can represent their needs, concems and strategies to the relevant govemment bodies; mobilise a network of people who are willing and able to assist community members who find themselves in difficult or troublesome situations.


Monique Marks and Debby Bonnin

The skills and knowledge that members of these community safety groups gained from working towards these objectives have enabled them to be more active decision-making partners when dealing with govemment agencies, business groups and the private security sector. Through participating in community safety groups, community members have harnessed the capacity (collectively) to manage safety issues that affect their daily lives. These groups also provide an opportunity for community members who want to be active citizens to 'reach out' to others in their neighbourhood and to 'reach within' in sorting out safety problems. These groups are significant, if only because the police and other govemment agencies find it far more difficult to ignore or overlook problems and ideas for solving these problems from a collective, than is the case when they are contacted by individual community citizens.

Traders Against Crime/Warwick Triangle Community Police Forum

These groups formed as a result of real or perceived threats at the local level. Members of these groups (and their supporters) realised that they were not able to rely on the state to effectively or efficiently govem security. The TAC in Warwick Triangle was formed roughly ten years ago. Traders came together because people in the area were consistently victims of theft and armed robbery. The threat of crime proved a real obstacle to trade in the area. Potential customers were afraid to enter the area, especially after dark. This was made worse by the fact that the local authority did not respond to calls to fix broken traffic lights or to install proper lighting in the area. Traders were forced to close their businesses early and residents retreated to their fiats as darkness set in. In the view of key organisers of the TAC, the police were unwilling - even unable to deal with criminal incidents in the area. As a result, traders came together and decided to start their own marshalling system as a way of creating a visible 'watch' in the area. The fact that members of the TAC know the area well and are able to respond quickly to calls of distress, has meant that they are now the first line of contact for victims of crime in Warwick Triangle. Members of the TAC have leamed over the years that they have 'no choice but to arm themselves', sometimes with licenced firearms, as they are often the first to respond to violent crime in the area. They claim that when a violent crime occurs, they contact the police immediately. When the police do not respond - which in their opinion is the majority of the time -TAC members make a citizen's arrest and take the 'offender' to the nearest police station. TAC members claim that when they hand over an arrested person, they provide as much evidence as possible to secure a custodial arrest and conviction. Members of the TAC acknowledge that they do not always operate within a human rights framework, nor do they adhere to due process at all times. When they apprehend an offender they often mete out physical punishment, the severity of which is dependent on members' perceptions of the severity of the offence. 62

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Traders Against Crime operate on a purely voluntary basis. They have no material resources - not even T-shirts or vests to publicly identify themselves. They are, in short, armed with their own energy, cell phones and weapons. They have no office space and so meetings, when they do occur, take place on the street or in the offices of nongovernmental organisations who have offered support. The TAC would like to be able to formally register as an organisation and be able to raise funds - a dream that for now looks unlikely to be realised. TAC members, traders in the area, and even govemment representatives agree that the TAC has played a significant role in fighting crime and identifying environmental problems. They have also made it their mission to foster a sense of pride in place in the Warwick area. In the words of ward councillor Avril Coen: 'The Warwick Triangle TAC has been invaluable in making this area safer. They have tirelessly fought against crime and have tried (often unsuccessfully) to bring the police on board to do something about crime in the area' (Coen, Interview, 13 February 2009). Councilor Coen is not alone in holding this view: the TAC won a mayoral award for its contribution to reducing crime in the Warwick Triangle area (Robbins & Skinner 2009). Volunteers' involvement in TAC activities comes at a price. Active TAC members pay large sums of money for cell phone calls, and family relations are negatively impacted as they are always 'on call'. Some TAC members have paid with their lives. In 2008, one of the most committed members of the TAC, Rasta, was shot and killed when he apprehended a person who had been engaged in violent criminal activities. Other members have been stabbed, shot at, and even arrested and charged by the SAPS for their 'illegal' activities (Gwede & Mabusa, Focus group, 20 November 2008). In recent months, some members of the TAC have begun to call themselves the Warwick Triangle Community Police Forum. While they have historically worked independently from the formal government-legislated community police forums, they are now trying to formalise their working relationships with the police. In so doing, they are aiming to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the police and local authorities. Key members of the TACAVarwick CPF have recently been elected onto the executive committee of the (formal) Durban Central community police forum.

Newlonds East Street Committees

The first street committee in the eThekwini municipal area was launched in August 2008. The launch followed the Polokwane Conference Resolution that street committees be formed by all ANC branches in order to fight crime. Jacob Zuma, who was present at the launch, spoke about how street committees in the area had already reduced crime by 80 per cent in the two months prior to the formal launch (Mthembu 2008). The recent call for street committees draws on institutional memories of ANC-aligned South Africans, who formed such structures at the height of apartheid as a means of creating alternative forms of local governance, including the governance of security, at the local 63

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level. While not as active as they once were, street committees are still operational in a number of townships across South Africa. Exactly how street committees operate, and are meant to operate, is not entirely clear. No guidelines have been provided by govemment or by the ANC itself Much is defined by local dynamics and local political histories. Broadly, though, in the view of the ANC-led govemment, street committees are meant to operate as watchdog bodies in alerting the police to crime hot-spots (ibid.). They are also seen as a route to developing caring and cohesive communities. While there are no guidelines for the establishment and running of street committees, ANC leaders have called for street committee members to work collaboratively with the police and not to engage in vigilante activities (ibid.). It is not surprising that Newlands East was selected for the official launch, nor that street committees are already active in this area. According to Themba Kwela, member of the Alhen Rice Garpa street committee, in the six months leading up to the launch, a pastor was shot and killed in his street and there were many rapes and armed robberies taking place in the area. Incidents were reported to the police, but no action was taken. Given the lack of responsiveness of the police, community members joined forces and started patrolling their streets from 18hOO to 22h00. These patrol groups identify unfamiliar people and activities, and 'investigate' whether or not these present a threat (Kwela, Interview, 26 January 2009). Street committees are meant to act within the law and avoid using force. The reality, however, is that violence is used. One of the leaders of the street committee movement in Newlands East, Ike Xaba, openly stated in an interview that if somebody suspected of criminal activities is apprehended by the street committee, they will be given a 'good hiding' (Xaba, Interview, 18 November 2008). Thereafter they are handed over to the police. If the police fail to arrive to make an arrest within a given time period, street committee members 'will eliminate the murderer to prevent the loss of other lives'. The police are, according to street committee leaders, well aware of this 'contract' (Focus group, 15 November 2008). As is the case with the TAC, the street committees in Newlands East make a considerable effort to find incriminating evidence that can be used by the authorities. The street committee has established a set of operating guidelines which have been discussed with the SAPS. The station commissioner in the Newlands area and members of the street committees agree that there is a good working relationship between the two 'nodal' groups. Similar to the Warwick area, a number of street committee members own guns. This is viewed by street committee members as necessary, especially when they are patrolling the informal settlements that border Newlands East, where murders take place at an alarming rate. According to the station commissioner, in one of the neighbouring informal settlements on average four people are killed every weekend (Pillay, Interview, 13Febmary2009). The street committees in the Newlands East area are not simply reactive, nor do they confine themselves to physical safety issues: they are coneemed with broader issues of 64

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human security and community cohesion. For example, they identified illegal shebeens in the area. While they were aware that they could get the authorities to close down the shebeens, their preferred route was to find a solution together with the shebeen owners. The agreement reached was that the shebeens will stop operating after 2 lhOO. If shebeen owners fail to keep to their side ofthe agreement, the street committee reports them to the police. This mechanism has worked far more effectively than attempts to prohibit shebeens from operating, which in most cases leads to an increase in 'underground shebeen trade' (Kwela, Interview, 26 January 2009). From interviews conducted with a range of key actors in the area (including the police), local community groups have the knowledge and the capacity to find solutions that are workable and meet the needs of all community groups. As one of the street committee leaders insightfully stated in an interview:
Most crimes that are reported don't require police intervention. Community members know best how to deal with safety issues. They know where the problem lies and what the best solution is ... It is really a question of being a responsible citizen and creating an environment that we want our kids to be raised in. We are all in the policing trade together. (Xaba, Interview, 18 November 2008)

Street committee members are also responsible for identifying problems that might lead to feelings of insecurity, or create opportunities for crime. For example, members of street committees look for potholes in the road that could lead to accidents. They also identify street lights that are not working and report these to the relevant loeal authority. Street committees also engage in a range of activities aimed at reaching out to vulnerable sectors ofthe community. One example of this is the identifying of families who cannot afford to pay school fees. Street committee members take it upon themselves to negotiate with school goveming boards for fee reductions for such families. They also check on elderly and isolated community members. A member ofthe street committee recalled how they discovered an elderly woman alone in her flat, with her son who had died a few days earlier. Since this elderly resident could not pay for her son's funeral, the street committee members organised funds for a 'respectable' funeral (Xaba, Interview, 18 November 2009). A commonly held view, expressed by street committee members and Newlands' residents, is that making communities safer is about making neighbourhoods 'nice' places in which to live. Once there is pride in place, neighbourliness is easier to build and having community solidarity creates feelings of security. In their view (and in line with Braithwaite's thinking), for communities to be safe, people should 'not mind their own business' or tolerate 'deviance'.


Monique Marks and Debby Bonnin

The PalmRidge Neighbourhood Association

The PalmRidge Neighbourhood Association (PRNA), which was formed in 2006, shares many ofthe objectives ofthe other two community safety groups. There are, however, three key differences between the PRNA and the groups formed in Newlands East and Warwick Triangle. In the first instance, the PRNA was formed at the suggestion of the responsible station commissioner (Supt. Smit). Secondly, the PRNA does not do street patrols, although some members ofthe association have suggested this. Members ofthe association do not carry arms (or if they do it is not openly acknowledged). Thirdly, the PRNA works fairly closely with a private security company (ADT), which has majority buy-in in the area. PRNA members can afford to 'buy in' some aspects of security, and so the policing nexus in this area includes the state, community groups and the private sector. One ofthe PRNA's early projects was to organise a procurement process to see which private security provider offered the best services and packages to the neighbourhood. Ofthe five companies interviewed, one (ADT) was selected as 'company of choice'. Discounts were negotiated for those who signed armed response contracts with ADT. ADT managers and officers attend the PRNA monthly meetings. At these meetings ADT provides feedback about its activities and observations over the past month, and the company is open to suggestions about how to better service the area. ADT recognises the PRNA as an organised grouping and, according to PRNA members interviewed, is far more responsive and reliable than the SAPS. ADT and the PRNA believe they are working towards the same objectives. According to founding members, the PRNA was relatively easy to establish because the neighbourhood already had a sense of cohesiveness. People living in the area had been there for many years - sometimes decades - and there was already familiarity between neighbours. What motivated the community to form the association and to respond to the proposal from the station commissioner was the fact that a gang operating in the area had been involved in a series of house robberies. When residents approached the local SAPS about what to do, the station commissioner recommended that they form a neighbourhood association. A small group of concemed neighbours put letters in post boxes, calling for a meeting to discuss safety issues. A network was activated and then strengthened when a local resident was stabbed with a screwdriver while walking past a derelict, abandoned house. A subsequent meeting was held, which was widely attended by local residents. Word spread, and now almost all the houses in the area form part of the PRNA, which has two main objectives: to assess and address the drivers of crime and to build social cohesion. Vigilante responses to crime have been strongly rejected by the majority of members ofthe PRNA. The PRNA began informally, but quickly developed a strategy document and thereafter arranged for members to take responsibility for different parts ofthe strategy. For example, certain individuals are responsible for reporting street light outages or 66

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illegal rubbish dumping, while others are responsible for attending the monthly CPF meeting. One person ensures that important information (often, but not always, related to safety issues) about the area is sent (usually by email or SMS) to all members of the network. The PRNA has mobilised people in the area to develop a sense of pride in their neighbourhood. There has been, for example, a competition for the best verge in the neighbourhood. People are strongly encouraged to take their rubbish out at the right time for collection, and older residents who have difficulties with this task are assisted by younger residents. Street parties are held annually to create a social vibe in the area, so that children and adults feel their neighbourhood is a space for people to gather, socialise and play. When asked about the main achievements of the PRNA to date, founding members stated that they could not conclusively claim that crime had been reduced since the PRNA had been formed. However, they were certain of other positive, broader safety outcomes. The existence and projects of the PRNA have brought people out of their individual walled-in spaces and this, in tum, has led to a greater sense of cotnmunity and a reduction in fear of crime. Through local problem-solving and advocacy work they solved a number of commonly identified problems. For example, they effectively advocated for the closure of a working brothel, ensured that owners of derelict houses are identified and asked the police to intervene in cases of squatting, and worked with the relevant municipal department to get rid of overgrown bushes in a nearby cemetery (Bunting & Dalton, Interview, 26 March 2009). All of this has led to an enhanced sense of neighbourly pride, as demonstrated by greater environmental awareness. People in the neighbourhood, through the networks established by the PRNA, now have an efficient way of communicating information to one another, and of supporting those experiencing difficulties such as deaths of loved ones or victimisation due to crime. New neighbours are welcomed into the area and encouraged to participate in the association. Even estate agents working in the area claim that property values have increased as a result of the active community group operative there. Despite these positive outcomes, there is a strong feeling amongst PRNA members that the services which the police provide to them are poor. They do not feel that the police operate as partners or collaborators. When problems are identified and solutions to safety issues suggested, the police are often unresponsive. These feelings toward the police were echoed by those interviewed from the two other community safety groups. Groups like the PRNA, TAC and street committees play a crucial role in their respective areas, in creating feelings of safety and a sense of pride in place. They also provide a link for groups of individuals with necessary (often aloof) service providers. The reality of these community safety groups as a crucial part of the policing matrix has been formally recognised by the eThekwini municipality, which is well aware of their presence in almost every suburb, township and informal settlement in the greater


Monique Marks ond Debby Bonnin

Durban area - what is important is finding a way of collaborating with these groups and ensuring that such groups are sustainable. As a result, on 28 October 2009, the Safer Cities Department formally launched a manual (drafted by the authors of this article) entitled: Community Action for Safer Neighbourhoods: A 'How-to Manual' for Forming Sustainable Community Safety Groups. The manual sets out the roles of the various policing agencies and outlines who should be doing what, to create safer communities. But perhaps most importantly, the manual sets out a number of principles to which community safety groups need to adhere, in order to prevent them from becoming vigilante, sectarian groups. Eleven principles are listed in the manual, of which seven are noted here: 1. Local community groups often have the best knowledge of the area and have good solutions to safety problems, but their contributions must be properly recognised or coordinated; Community safety groups should be non-partisan and non-political; Community groups must avoid using violence and intimidation; Community safety groups must recognise the right to safety of all community members - property owners and tenants, workers and the unemployed. South Africans and foreigners; Community safety groups must always act in ways that demonstrate that they value humane behaviour in general, and express care for their neighbours; Community safety groups must demonstrate a respect for the law; The police, local govemment and other govemment agencies must recognise and support the vitality and creativity of community associations in creating safer neighbourhoods.

2. 3. 4.

5. 6. 7.

These principles are vital if community safety groups are to avoid degenerating into unaccountable vigilante groups, and if they are to be formally recognised and supported by state bodies like the police.


Throughout the world, and particularly in places like Australia and the United Kingdom, the police now refer to 'nodes', 'partners' and 'networks' in their strategic planning (Wood 2006a). However, the police are often unsure how to put such discourse into practice. While wanting to form partnerships to relieve them of the 'policing' work they know can be done by other nodal actors, the police find it difficult to act as partners or to operate effectively in a network. There are three main reasons for this: in the first instance, the police hold on fiercely to all aspects of the policing job, despite knowing that they do not have, nor will they ever have, the monopoly on policing services (see Marks, Wood & Shearing 2009). Secondly, the police remain unclear about what exactly is expected from them. In certain instances they are asked to act decisively against crime 68

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and disorder, yet they are also expected to be all things to all people, usually signalled by philosophies of 'community policing' (Altbecker 2007). Thirdly, the police are unclear about what exactly their role is in safety networks, as well as what the role of other groups in the network is or should be (Wood 2006a). At the same time, communities are often unclear about what to expect from the police and what the police can feasibly offer in terms of service delivery. These tensions, felt by police throughout the world, were reflected in the interviews with station commissioners from the three jurisdictions researched. Each of the station commissioners spoke positively about community initiatives. The station commissioner of Mayville police station (responsible for the PalmRidge area). Superintendent Smit, described the PRNA as a 'constructive initiative'. In his view such groups do assist with crime prevention and are important because they mobilise coneemed citizens. He categorically stated that the work of the police is made easier when there are formal representative groups to work with and to account to (Smit, Interview, 10 March 2009). Smit supports the call for street committees. He believes local communities have the best knowledge of their areas and are able to come up with workable solutions to safety problems, which they can communicate to the police and other govemment agencies. However, he opposes the idea of communities actively doing patrols, as he believes this compromises their security because they lack the skills and resources to deal with dangerous situations. As he put it, criminals are armed and civilians are not equipped to deal with such situations. In Smit's view, community groups can and should deal with minor issues of social disorder and conflict, and can help identify (and rectify) the environmental causes of crime. He insists, however, that if communify groups are to be effective and if the police are to be able to focus on more serious and violent crime, the local authority needs to be directly involved in solving social and environmental problems. For Smit, the current lack of responsiveness and service delivery from local authorities makes the job of the police much more difficult and creates frustration amongst communify safety groups who direct their anger at the police (Smit, Interview, 10 March 2009). Smit has tried to deal with the deficits of cooperation and role differentiation in two ways: he has invited groups like the PRNA to actively participate in the communify police fomm, and he also mns a strong reservist programme as a way of formalising citizen knowledge of and involvement in actual police work. Similarly, Director Sitesh Pillay emphatically supports communify groups like the TAC. He is, however, aware that the police are not as responsive as they could be in dealing with the problems communify safefy groups bring to the police's attention. While he sees communify mobilisation and problem solving as vital to the policing enterprise, he is also cautious about romanticising bottom-up, non-state interventions. Pillay pointed out that while traders complain about the lack of police responsiveness, they often resist police intervention when the police's regulatory attempts are out of synch with traders' desired 'order'. This has led to what he refers to as 'mn-ins' between traders and the police.

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Director Pillay has been instmmental in establishing formal community associations within his jurisdiction. He assisted the Chinese community in forming an association to speak on their joint behalf, and to relay information to the police. The Chinese Association has an office with a liaison person who literally translates the problems Chinese-speaking people experience to the police. In tum, the police have an agreement with the Chinese Association to respond as quickly as possible to requests and to share ideas about crime prevention and safety enhancement. Pillay has similar pilot projects mnning with Pakistani and Somali communities. Drawing on police crime statistics, Pillay believes improved communication in these minority communities has led to a decrease in crime, and has served to counteract feelings of insecurity. Pillay made the incisive point, however, that the success of such partnerships or networks is dependent on the homogeneity of the community groups and the resources they have available to mn their own offices and communicate with the police. According to Pillay, communities should know that the police cannot be present and visible all the time. Rather, the police should be there to act in instances of serious crime or disorder, and they should conduct proper investigations. In his view, community members and associations should play a key role in resolving local problems. They must also be aware ofthe limitations and constraints facing the public police. In Pillay's view, one cmcial reason for police ineffectiveness is that people refer 'every little problem to the police to be resolved'. In doing so, they 'block the police emergency line' and direct police resources away from their core functions. For Pillay, the police, already stretched in terms of resources, need to be freed to respond to serious criminal cases such as robberies and rape (Pillay, Interview, 13 Febmary 2009). Director Pillay is clear that the public police cannot and should not be responsible for clearing bushes or getting neighbours to tum down the volume of the music they play. These are issues that communities can deal with themselves, or they should call on the relevant govemment department. Like Smit, Pillay made the point that other state agencies are not responsive and that the capacities of the police are watered down because the police, as the only 24/7 govemment agency, remain the first port of call in any (perceived) emergency situation. The police, in his view, must be able to go 'back to basics', which means dealing decisively with contact crimes, doing proper investigations to build solid cases for prosecution, and effecting arrests, as required. Much of what these station commissioners said coincided with the views of the Newlands East Station Commissioner, Superintendent Thandi Malimela. For Supt. Malimela, the best way to make communities safer is to mobilise local energies and formalise working relationships between cotnmunity groups and the police (Focus group, 15 November 2008). Like Director Pillay, Malimela believes most reported crimes or incidents of social disorder do not require police intervention. Community members, she stated, know where problems lie, while the police are often oblivious to these underlying problems. In addition, she pointed out, crimes generally occur when the police are not present. Communities then have little option but to try to deal with situations as they occur, and to attempt to minimise the possibility of crime occurring.

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Supt. Malimela supports the idea of street committees. Since their formation in the 2008, the police have attended street committee meetings and encouraged street committee members to participate in the Newlands Community Police Forum (CPF). The current chairperson of the Newlands CPF is a founding member of one of the street committees. Now that there is a formalised and collaborative relationship between the street committees and the police, they have embarked on joint projects, such as conducting a community survey to establish 'community problems' and how they could be resolved. Street committees are expected to report to the CPF about their aetivities and project ideas. Supt. Malimela's dream is that a street committee be formed in every street. In a lower soeio-economic area like Newlands East, where it is not possible for households to 'buy out' security, groups like street committees are vital for everyday policing. Contrary to Supt. Smit, Supt. Malimela supports community patrols: she aims to bolster their effectiveness by ensuring that at least one member of every ward committee is a trained police reservist. As Malimela sees it, through the reservist programme street committee members will leam about due process and develop skills like statement taking. Malimela is aware that police resources need to be used in a more targeted way, and to do this both the community and the police need to accept that the police are not always the best agency to deal with all safety-related problems.


What have we leamed from the Durban study that is the focus of this article? What normative conclusions can we draw? Community safety groups are an important feature of the policing matrix, for a number of reasons: community safety groups carry out important safety problemsolving activities, and they are a collective voice that 'speaks' to govemment agencies about environmental matters that could become criminogenic. They mobilise the energy of active citizens and are able to intervene effectively in local safety problems. Community safety groups, like the ones discussed in this article, will continue to form and operate because police resources and capacities will always be finite - especially in countries with 'weak states' such as South Africa. While it cannot be denied that some of their ways of resolving problems and dealing with 'offenders' or 'deviants' are highly problematic, they do positively impact on community cohesion and enhance feelings of safety. In many practical ways, community safety groups are effectively 'force multipHers' to the public police. Those who are active in these groups recognise that the police have limited capacity and skills. They do not want a police service which tries to be everything to everyone, nor do they want a police force which is overly interventionist. What they want is a police organisation which does what it is mandated and trained to do, but does this in a consultative, effective and efficient manner. As one of the leaders of the Newlands East street committee stated: 'We don't the police to be Aquafresh All in One' (Kwela,

Monique Marks and Debby Bonnin

Interview, 26 January 2009). They want the police to take act on issues that communities identify as safety threats, rather than have a police organisation whose planning is based on (often contestable) crime statistics, (centrally imposed) national priorities and (unimaginative) bureaucratic inertia. Contrary to what Jonny Steinberg suggests in Thin Blue., in terms of goveming security, there might be greater commonality between what the police want and what community groups want, than meets the eye. Police and community safety group representatives seem to agree that the police should be 'minimalist' actors. What this means is that instead of widening the reach of the police (through generally poorly determined 'community policing' programmes), what is required is for the police to confine themselves to what they are trained and resourced to do, and for the police to intervene when communities request them to do so (Kinsey et al. 1986). Using Reiner's depiction of minimalist policing, 'police intervention should be confined to cases where there is clear evidence of law-breaking, and should take the form of the invocation of legal powers and criminal process' (Reiner 1992: 145). A more 'minimalist view' of the role and function of the state police would allow the police to do what they know best and to prove their effectiveness as a key govemment agency - especially in emergent or transitional states, where police resources and legitimacy are low. This approach, which clearly delineates the specific core functions and responsibilities of the police, would provide a basis for certainty about which security node does what, how, and at what cost. The result would be a state-building exercise that harmonises state authority with local systems. Such an approach, Menkhaus argues, is the 'best hope for achieving something remotely approaching effective govemance in communities desperate for a more predictable and secure environment' (2007: 108). This minimal role of the police must be determined by what is unique about the public police. What is their unique role and function? While the public police no longer hold the monopoly on the legitimate use of force, they remain unique in their specialised training to use ubiquitous coercion in a graduated and discretionary way. The police remain a fundamental representative of the legal system (Reiss & Bordua 1967: 27), and through their presence demonstrate that a 'regime of law exists' (Bayley 1994: 34). Because of this, and because of their capacity to curtail individual freedoms in the most dramatic ways, the police should carry out the following fiinctions: they should intervene authoritatively to restore order when social harmony has collapsed or is under threat (Thatcher 2009), they should resolve serious confiict and intervene decisively in combating crimes that communities experience as threatening (Kinsey et al. 1986), and, perhaps, most importantly, they need to conduct thorough investigations (Altbecker 2007). Proposing this view of the police is not new. Indeed, Kinsey et al. (1986) presented this framework in a landmark book about the problems of policing crime more than three decades ago. However, notions of minimal/minimalist policing have often been denounced as 'left realist romanticism' (see Thatcher 2009). It is important, therefore, to consider what the benefits of minimal police frameworks could be. First, institutions

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and mechanisms of accountability would be far simpler to design if the functions of the police were more clearly delineated. Second, the surest way to build legitimacy on the part of the police is for them to demonstrate that they are both democratic (through acting on community demands rather than their own 'intelligence') and effective as a public service agency with unique mandates, skills and resources. Third, once the police are clear about their own role, and feel less pressured to respond to an everwidening demand for their interventions, a space will be created for them to actively encourage and even to leam from altemative (non-state) ways of social ordering. This is important because, as this article has demonstrated, local, non-state forms of ordering usually enjoy a high degree of legitimacy and local ownership, and their solutions to everyday security problems are often more effective than 'inorganic, top-down' state interventions (Menkhaus 2007). Fourth, the minimalist police perspective fits well with what the police want (Kinsey et al. 1986): the police want to be 'real police' who can intervene effectively to combat crime, restore public order and hold (at least symbolically) the 'big gun' (Bjork 2006). But when they do intervene, they want to be respected by the communities they police, not played by community members like puppets on a string, as Steinberg suggests is currently the case. For this to occur, the majority of interventions by the police must be the result of community initiation. This model, then, has the potential to boost police morale, as police begin to see themselves as engaged in 'real police work while at the same time doing what the community wants them to do' (Kinsey et al. 1986: 201). A minimalist policing approach is important to consider in countries like South Africa, where police legitimacy is in question and where there are very limited state resources. The public police do not want to be stretched beyond their capacities in terms of their resources, training, mandate or skills base. In developing countries like South Africa, the police simply cannot be the hub of all community/societal problem-solving that is linked to broad notions of security.

The detail of what these groups do, their origins, and how they relate to the police and other nodal security actors differs in significant ways, but what holds them together is their vision of safe, proud and cohesive neighbourhoods. Equally, what binds them is a dream of responsive public police and govemment agencies, and a certainty that their own initiatives will be supported and recognised. They have a clear sense of what they are doing, but they want to determine what it is that the police should and could be doing. And, like the police, they want the core function of the police to be clearly outlined, so that the police can be minimal actors. Minimal police actors would be responsive to public requests for assistance (regardless of the police's perceived seriousness of the crime), respectful and supportive of non-police solutions to problems of crime and disorder, committed to efficient and effective crime investigation, and have a high regard for civil liberties and individual rights (ibid: 189). In this vision, the police have

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a limited ambit. The function they perform must be premised on their specialised skills and mandate and, as far as possible, their interventions should result from communifyidentified safefy threats. What this article demonstrates is that, as Braithwaite suggests, communities should not mind their own business. In our contemporary world, sustainable assoeiational life, however, necessitates the state (as the anchor of public good provision and authorisation) to respond when called upon. The model proposed in this article is a far cry from most popular normative views of polieing in South Africa. And there are certainly challenges which both the police and communify groups need to meet, in order for such a model to work. The police need to be trained and organised to efffectively investigate crime, resolve major conflict, and be responsive to community demands for their skilled intervention. The police also need to find meehanisms to actively support and collaborate with community groups whose aim has never been to replace state bodies. At the same time, communify safefy groups need to be prepared to work collaboratively with the police, within safefy networks. They also need to adhere to a set of guiding principles (such as those suggested in this article) which preclude them from engaging in partisan and/or vigilante actions in their quest for community safefy. Admitedly, these are difficult challenges to meet. However, the realify of our current policing landscape indicates that this model fits with what community safety groups and the police desire. It also provides us with a route for effectively mobilising the resources we already have available to us, but which remain poorly coordinated and virtually unrecognised at present.

1 PalmRidge is not the name of a suburb or area; it is abbreviated from the name of the organisation formed in this section of the suburban Berea. Organised residents have called themselves the PalmRidge Neighbourhood Association. The name is drawn from two of the roads that form part of the boundary of the association.

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-. 2007. 'Police: Past, Present and Future.' Opening Keynote Address, Nordie Police Research Conference, Vaxjo, Sweden, 16 August. -. 2008. 'Urban Security Dilemmas and Governance in Africa.' Paper presented at the CLEEN Foundation for Justice Sector Reform Annual Conference, Lagos, 9 December. Singh, A. 2008. Policing and Crime Control in Post-Apartheid South Africa. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishers. Steinberg, J. 2008. Thin Blue: The Unwritten Rules of Policing in South Africa. Cape Town: Jonathan Ball. Thatcher, D. 2009. 'Community Policing without the Police? The Limits of Order Maintenance by the Community.' In P. Grabosky (ed.). Community Policing and Peace Keeping. Boca Rotan: CRC Press. Wood, J. 2006a. 'Dark Networks, Bright Networks and the Place ofthe Police.' In J. Fleming & J. Wood (eds.). Fighting Crime Together: The Challenge of Policing and Security Networks. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press. . 2006b. Research and Innovation in the Field of Security: A Nodal Governance View. In J. Wood & B. Dupont (eds.). Democracy. Society and the Governance of Security. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 217-241. Wood, J. & Shearing, C. 2007. Imagining Security. Cullompton: Willan. Zedner, L. 2006. 'Policing before and after the Police: The Historical Antecedents of Contemporary Crime Control.' British Journal of Criminology, 46(1): 78-97.

Interviews and focus groups

Bunting, D. & Raymond, D. (pseudonyms). Founders of PalmRidge Neighbourhood Association, Berea, Durban, 26 March 2009. Participants in focus group. Coen, A. Participant in Community Police Forum Annual General Meeting, Durban Central Police Station, 13 February 2009. Gwede, T. & Mabusa, P. (pseudonyms). Warwick Triangle, Durban, 20 November 2008. Participants in focus group with members of Traders against Crime. Kwela, T. (pseudonym). Newlands East Street Committee Leader, Newlands East, Durban, 26 January 2009. Malimela, T Newlands East Station Commissioner, Newlands East, Durban. Participant in focus group with police officers, 15 November 2008. Pillay, S. (pseudonym). Station Commissioner, Durban Central Police Station, 13 February 2009. Smit, P. (pseudonym). Mayville Police Station Commissioner, Mayville, Durban, 10 March 2009. Xaba, 1. (pseudonym). Newlands East Street Committee Leader, Newlands East, Durban, 18 November 2008.


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Monique Marks is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work and Community Development. She is also an Associate ofthe Centre of Criminology at the University of Cape Town. She has published widely in the areas of youth politics, ethnography, security govemance, police labour relations and police organisational change. Aside from publishing in a range of South African and intemational joumals, she has published three books. Young Warriors: Youth Poiitics, Identity and Violence in South Africa; Transforming Robocops: Changing Police in South Africa; and Police Occupational Culture: New Debates and Directions. The author can be contacted at: The School of Social Work and Community Development, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College, Durban, 4041. Dr Debby Bonnin has a PhD in Sociology from the University of the Witwatersrand. She teaches in Industrial, Organisational and Labour Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and is currently Head of the School of Sociology and Social Studies. Her PhD examined political violence in KwaZulu-Natal and the creation of political identities. She has published widely in this area. She is currently researching in the area of textile design with a focus on the fumishing sector of the South African textile industry. The author can be contacted at: The School of Sociology and Social Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College, Durban, 4041.


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