Who can benefit from this study?
Civic Tech initiatives
Organisation responsible for case study:
Veza – Empowering public to hold South African Police accountable
Main Project Location: Johannesburg
Project country/countries: South Africa
Project dates: –
Last updated: 23 Mar 2022
Brief overview of the Case Study
The Veza (a colloquial term for ‘reveal’ or ‘expose’) online tool is an open data platform developed by Corruption Watch with the goal of improving transparency and accountability in the South African Police Service (SAPS). Veza is designed to encourage public participation in the matter of transparency in policing, while also providing access to key information about police operations. Its use will help to strengthen the role of the public and civil society in calling for change in the SAPS, and in reducing the power imbalance that exists between the SAPS and members of the public.
The challenge or problem
There is an overwhelming number of complaints from whistle-blower about police corruption from various communities experiencing police violence and abuse. Often these cases go unreported and thereby police transparency is obscured thereby not held accountable for their wrongdoings.
The solution that was implemented
Veza is an interactive open data tool, a first of its kind in South Africa that improves transparency in policing in the country and places the power to hold the South African Police Services (SAPS) accountable in the of the public.
The Veza tool provides information at national, provincial and district level. It features interactive maps of police corruption trends and hotspots, information relating to the public’s rights when encountering the police in various situations, and data on all 1 150 police stations across the country, such as locations, resources, budget, and personnel. It also enables users to rate and review police stations based on personal experiences, to compare resources of up to four stations, to commend honest and ethical police officers, and to report incidents of corruption and police misconduct that are immediately geo-located through the tool.
The data used to populate the Veza tool was obtained directly from the SAPS through the submission of a number of applications under the Promotion of Access to Information Act. The collection and verification of data is an ongoing process, and the team is continually working to address the current gaps in information from specific provinces, districts and individual police stations by applying pressure to the necessary bodies to disclose the relevant information, which is in the public interest.
What results were achieved?
This technological offering was made possible by Community Watch’s (CW) selection at the end of 2018 as one of four winners of the Google Impact Challenge, which aimed to encourage local innovators to solve a social problem using technology. The support from this grant and other donors enabled the CW team to develop an idea to address the specific problem of police misconduct and abuse of power.
“Since Corruption Watch’s inception in 2012, innovation has always been central to our approach in addressing systemic and pervasive corruption in South Africa,” says Kavisha Pillay, head of stakeholder relations and campaigns at Corruption Watch. “The launch of the Veza tool signifies a new era for Corruption Watch as we explore how transparency, big data and accessible technology can be used to combat corruption and advance broader social justice issues.”
Lessons and recommendations
The Veza tool is also an opportunity for the SAPS and other government structures to embrace the concept of open data and public access to information – this will go a long way to restoring public confidence in the vital role that they play in the country. Members of the police service can themselves benefit from the use of the geo-location feature that highlights hotspots of corruption and gain valuable insight into the allocation and use of resources of their own police stations.
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