The ‘latest’ crime statistics reveal that the murder rates are up and are concentrated in a few urban stations.
The interventions by the police to combat crime on the Cape Flats and in the townships are not reflected in the crime statistics released on Thursday, according to Bheki Cele, the police minister. “Most of the things that we have done in the Western Cape are not part of the crime statistics,” Cele said. He was responding to a question from the media about the effectiveness of the Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) and the deployment of the South African National Defence Force on the Cape Flats.
The AGU was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa in November last year, while the army was deployed in crime ridden areas of Cape Town as from July this year. The statistics are of crimes reported to police stations around the country, from April 2018 to March 2019.
The ten police precincts where the army is currently deployed have once again come up tops when it comes to murder and contact crimes. These are Harare, Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Philippi East, Nyanga, Manenburg, Bishop Lavis, Delft, Mfuleni and Kraaifontein. The Cape Town stations are in the top 15 of the 30 stations around the country reporting the highest murder rates.
Though the number of murder cases opened at Nyanga police station has decreased by 19, the area is still the murder capital of South Africa. Samora Machel township which falls within the Nyanga police precinct is supposed to be getting a police station. Asked whether the grim numbers should not hasten the plans for the building of Samora Machel police station, the National Police Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole gave a long winded explanation of why he could not say and spoke instead about the process that they follow in establishing a new station.
The total number of contact crimes – defined as crime against the person – has increased. Also, the number of sexual offences which includes rape, sexual assault, attempted sexual offence and contact sexual offences has increased from 50,108 in 2017/18 to 52,420 in 2018/19.
In a media statement, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), has called for more regular statistics to be made available to the public as the ones that were released today are stale: “The SAPS statistics released this week are almost six months out-of-date and do not reflect the current spate of high-profile violent crimes reported in the media. The data covers crimes committed in the financial year from 30 April 2018 to 31 March 2019.”
The ISS said that even though the rule of law is crucial, the country urgently needs to support violence prevention programmes.
“To address the drivers of violence in South Africa requires an increased investment in programmes proven to work. These include positive parenting programmes, after-school care programmes and anti-bullying programmes at schools. “Most violent behaviour is learnt in the home and in communities. Violence prevention programmes are key to reducing crimes that cannot be policed,” said Gareth Newham, head of the justice and violence prevention programme at the ISS.
For the first time, this year’s crime statistics were approved by the Statistician-General who was part of the press briefing. “Unlike the Minister who has to talk about numbers going up or down, ours is just to give facts and we have no emotional attachment to the numbers that we make available,” Risenga Maluleke said. Nine dimensions, according to him, were taken into account for the statistics to be approved: relevance, accuracy, timeliness, interpretability, accessibility, methodological soundness, comparability, and coherence as well as integrity.