Khulisa on Protecting and Empowering the Persons Harmed–International Restorative justice Week 2021

Leading up to International Restorative Justice Week, we at Khulisa caught up on the points of view of our MD Lesley Ann van Selm, Carl Stauffer and Mike Batley from the Restorative Justice Centre and fellow speakers taking part in the Restorative Justice Webinar. Hosted by the University of KwaZulu-Natal on the 23rd of November 2021) in association with Khulisa Social Solutions and the Restorative Justice Centre.

Thanks to Lesley Ann van Selm, Carl Stauffer and Mike Batley from the Restorative Justice Centre for sharing your views on restorative justice! Read on and let us know how you feel about restorative justice!

First, what is International Restorative Justice Week about?

This is an eight-day movement where individual pioneers and established organisations engaging in restorative justice organise local events and campaigns to raise awareness about restorative justice.

Khulisa Social Solutions’ restorative processes have been ingrained in all of Khulisa’s interventions since 1997. Making Khulisa a forerunner in rendering a range of restorative projects throughout South Africa. This ranges from mediation, conflict resolution to victim/offender mediation, and multiple other peacemaking encounters. “Hence, we advocate for restorative justice models as the perfect response to the rising conflict in our communities”, says Lesley ann.

Now, why should we talk about restorative justice as an option for restoration?

In providing context, Mike stated that since 2015 there has been no further development on the policy framework or implementations. Explicit mediation work linked to restorative justice has reduced significantly over the past 10 years.  The movement in South Africa seems to have little to no direction.

According to Carl, there is increasing recognition of how restorative justice can remedy the traumas created by diverse forms of harm. The harm is civil disputes/harassment or otherwise criminal behaviour, including severe incidents (armed robbery/sexual abuse). With this is a growing body of evidence supporting restorative justice processes’ ability to address aspects of lawlessness: crime and violence. He also thinks that despite this growing visibility, there is still a gap in the accessibility to restorative justice services and options for diverse victims, hence the reduced visibility and lack of direction.

 The current trends in restorative justice, suggest that there’s a minor change to expect in the criminal legal system as far as holding individuals to account. “As nothing has come out of the previous work, all sorts of messages in terms of the lack of accountability, sense of impunity, have been sent out, whilst simultaneously there has been an increasing level of need to deal with conflict and ever-increasing inequality in communities.”, says Mike.

 In that regard, the lack of government resposnsbilty makes restoration our responsibility. The restorative justice initiatives database has 35 small groups of NGOs doing restorative justice, yet most are nowhere to be found. We want this webinar to help lure these restorative justice services providers into the public eye.

 This brings us to the purpose of the Restorative Justice Webinar addressing harm.

This webinar is the ideal opportunity to learn and share information. Information about the scope of harm and impact on victims (trauma). This sharing can enable South Africans to connect and build mutually beneficial partnerships. Help us start ongoing conversations about creating sustainable, restorative justice interventions. Interventions and solutions that inspire safety, empowerment and tranquillity in victims and persons affected by whichever offence.

Carl suggests there is a connection between restorative justice providing the values, principles and practices, and building the community. This connection is the drive used for decision making, to empower and capacitate the community to develop itself. Lesley and Mike agree that strong communities are necessary for us to thrive as a healthy and healed society.

Khulisa Social Solutions and our partners hope to educate communities in peace mediation processes, and capacity building amongst NGOs. Empowering them to discuss, address and take ownership of violence at a community level. Khulisa further aims to incite the thinking that, through leadership and training, people can find solutions to their individual and community conflicts.

With that, we also hope to change the collective view of (1) restorative justice and its applications, (2) stimulate creativity and innovation to shape our relationships and the world we live in, and (3) receive support for our missions and programs. 

But we can’t do this by ourselves. And although we want experts involved, we need our youth, victims and offenders to join in the conversation because they are the future we aim to build. We need holistic support to make restorative justice a household term and a solution to addressing harm.

We need you.

We hope you can join us in expanding our worldview and solutions at the webinar: https://ukzn.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_VdGnPulqTp6ghNHxJSUy5A

Contact us at info@khulisa.org.za or through our website: www.khulisa.org.za/play-your-part/ for information on our restorative justice projects and how we can support each other!

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