The COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa, which began in late March 2020, has had some impact on quelling levels of violence in the city. But it did continue, and unless a clear set of policy and policing interventions are brought in, levels of violence will almost certainly surge in the wake of the economic crisis left by the pandemic.

What is needed in Nelson Mandela Bay is a more coherent strategy to break the cycle of violence. There is no silver bullet, and policing on its own has proved unable to address the crisis of lost lives.

What is required now is:

  • An overarching approach that includes socio-economic and infrastructure upgrading; the erosion of the barriers, both seen and unseen, that perpetuate the exclusion of marginalized com-munities in the city;
  • The reversal of the cycle of criminal influence (including in the allocation of tenders) that has hollowed out effective governance in the municipal authorities;
  • And the effective targeting of senior figures and management structures in criminal organizations by the police, as opposed to their harassing of low-level gang members.

Unless such a strategy is followed, many more lives and livelihoods will be lost, and the implications will become even more serious for the city, leaving the problem to fester, driving away investment and creating new cycles of violence that will become ever more difficult to contain.