Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Reviewing the Focus Group Excercise 2

Wednesday 23rd September 2009

We split into two main groups to conduct two separate focus groups with Extension 6 residents as we felt it would be useful for our project to conduct them separately. Here we blog about the results and other notes we made during the focus group and what we have discovered in reflection.

1) Focus Group 1 - 14:30

Even though the focus group was conducted in Xhosa it was very well translated by VK and with extra input from Non2.

Dominique and I (Lisa) helped mediate the group by asking questions in English and having the TV girls translate them.

It seemed to be a slight challenge for the TV and Photojourn students to manouver around the venue as well as getting the children to talk as they were a bit shy. I decided to re-interview the children separately as they seemed to know a lot about gang culture.

It was very sad to hear about the focus group participant's individual crime trauma's and I think that we as the people mediating the group all felt very connected to the participants by the time


Ntombomzi/Mary Waters School:15 years old #0783556430; Sinazu/Nombulelo School:17 years old #0765518206; Siphamandla/D.D.Siwisa School:13 years old # 0783769393; Sinethemba/Ntsika School:15 years old (no number); Mongameli/D.D.Siwisa School:13 years old #0735005789; Edith Joseph/G.A. Fort England: 57 years old (Fort England); Maybel Notyath/Stay at home Granny: 67 years old (no number); Phumeza Jelu/Stay at home: 23 years old #0799681887; Zola Tsihi /undefined: 32 years old (no number); Yandiswa Antomi/undefinded: 32 years old (no number); Lenande Jelu/Ntsika School: 15 years old #0781661850 and Sayama Ndimphiwe/undefined: 23 years old #0730453954

Proposal: meet at the pink house (owner has given permission) by MTN shop and near the bus stop on the corner as it is close to all of the participant’s houses

Equipment and staff: we will need a TV student and their camera to record the interview as well as a Radio student and their recording equipment and a Photojournalism student to take VOX pop style photographs at the beginning of the meeting and a Writing student to mediate the meeting. We have also decided to conduct the focus groups meetings in Xhosa so we will also need a translator. We will also need a design student to secure venue and snacks/drinks (we propose getting buying drinks and snacks together with other focus group team)

1. When we spoke to our focus group, the participants of which consisted of a varied demographic, they all came to the same conclusion: that the main problem with crime is poor service and reaction time by the police.

They said that many times they have attempted to complain to the police or their street committee but nothing has come about or been a permanent solution.
They said that for the most part that the youth are the perpetrators of crime in the area and that this is not only because of a lack on employment in Grahamstown but because of flaws in the education system and by the lack of interest by community leaders. They said that teachers don’t care what students do when they aren’t at school and there is a need for more extra-curricular activities to keep the youth occupied as well as more education in schools on crime.

2. Crime is affecting people in that some are thinking of re-locating elsewhere and the students in the focus group said that they want to leave the town itself as soon as they graduate from school as they don’t see themselves finding jobs or being happy in Grahamstown let alone Extension 6.
The crime has frightened people but so has the lack of police intervention and many do not feel safe in their homes.

Elvis Jalo, one of the focus group participants and the man that let us use his house as a venue, admits that he had the wall around his property knocked down and replaced it with a fence so that he can see thieves of gangs if they are loitering around his property.

Many of the focus group’s participants were related to or know of someone who has been severely affected, wounded or even died in event of violent crime. However they are highly critical not only of the police but of the justice system which often lets suspects, who were blatantly guilty or placed at the scene of the crime by eye witnesses, go out on bail or even let off without trial or proper holding sentence time.

Most of the participants say they would never tell the authorities who criminals are in the area, even though they know most of them by face and name, as they are scared that they will be victimised or threatened.
This fear is common in South Africa and prevalent in America. But fear of being victimised may not be the only reason for not “snitching”. In America ‘snitching’ is preventing the police and justice systems from working:
“[The] communities equate "snitching" with the concept of lesser criminals providing evidence on others' crimes to get their original crimes (and the punishment) reduced. It is that abuse of the "criminals' code" that is considered the deathly evil by other criminals. A 1995 National Institute of Justice Research in Action newsletter stated that prosecutors suspected that witness intimidation was in play in 75 percent or more of the violent crimes in gang-dominated neighbourhoods” (Omerta in the hood: 2008[1]).

This seems to be evident in Extension 6 and is a good explanation of what the focus group discussed the justice system and how it is constantly abused and if a criminal is put on trial or arrested then their friends and family will pull strings to get them out for various reasons.

3. Although the group has lost faith in the justice system they have solutions to their crime issues in the area. They are:
a. Make police presence more evident in the area by building permanent mobile police points in the area
b. Hold the police accountable for slow reaction time so that they react faster to break ins and acts of criminal violence
c. Hold the justice system accountable to prevent corruption and ensure fair trials
d. Get organisations and sponsors to organise extra-curricular activities for students and have youth systems with games rooms and monitors put in the extension to keep the youth away from gang culture

[1] http://ncpc.typepad.com/prevention_works_blog/violence/

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