South Africa is losing the fight against violent crime

South Africa suffers 109 rapes and 52 murders each day.

This is according to Africa Check’s analysis of the latest crime statistics, for the year to the 31st of March, which were just released by the South African Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.

The statistics showed that of the ten SA police stations where the most crimes are reported, three were in the Western Cape.

These were Cape Town Central, which topped the national crime league with 15 952 reports, and Mitchells Plain, which was third with 12 894. Stellenbosch came ninth with 9 298.

Minister Fikile Mbalula, presented the crime statistics in Parliament on Tuesday morning with the usual swagger we expect of him, but he could not disguise his nervousness at the levels of crime that for so long have plagued our society, investor confidence, and the tourism industry.

Mbalula presented the crime stats in a way which could clearly scare off many a potential visitor. He told the portfolio committee on police that crime was “in general, down”.

Yet “when you zoom into the numbers, we have a big problem where violent crime is going up, and this is no time to hide this.”

“Yes, we have a 1.8% drop in crime, I do not feel it, and our people do not feel it, and they are correct. We have a drop in sexual violence, but we have more and more pictures of our women going missing. People must feel the drop in crime where they live.”

DA shadow police minister Zakhele Mbhele said Tuesday’s release of the Annual Crime Statistics shockingly revealed that violent and organised crimes  “tragically continue to increase and there have been 52 murders, 109 rapes and 46 hijacking victims every day in South Africa”.

Mbhele noted that in particular, the crime statistics highlighted that there has been a rise in the following crimes:

· Murder is up by 1.8%, from 51 per day to 52;
· Carjackings are up by 14.5%, from 41 a day to a terrifying 46, with carjackings having almost tripled in Mpumalanga;
· Residential robberies increased by over 7%;
· Non-residential (business) robberies increased by 5%;
· Cash-in-transit heists almost tripled in two years;
· Stock theft increased by almost 9%;
· Illegal possession of firearms increased by over 9%; and
· Drug-related crime increased by almost 13%.

Mbhele argued that this “is in large part, a direct result of the chronic under-training, under-staffing, under-resourcing and under-equipping (the four Us) of the South African Police Services (SAPS), combined with crime intelligence-in-crisis and detectives-in-distress, meaning that the SAPS is unable to tackle organised crime and the syndicates who drive it,and lack a strong, skilled investigative capacity to ensure high detection and conviction rates”.

He said further: “The ‘four Us’, combined with poor leadership, low professionalism and weak accountability in the police service all mean that the SAPS is unable to get a grip on crime, and successfully bring it down.

“We all know that crime in South Africa is unacceptably high. Every single person in South Africa knows what it is to fear for their life and the lives of their loved ones. Our communities are under attack and children cannot walk down the street without fearing for their lives.”

Mbhele said: “What is even more terrifying is that far too many South Africans have reason to fear the SAPS, the very people who are meant to protect us. We must also question whether or not these statistics are a true reflection of the level of crime – as research does seem to point to under-reporting and under-recording of crimes.

“What is beyond doubt is that the Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, is ultimately responsible for the allocation of SAPS resources. It is up to him to take the nation into his confidence and to tell us what concrete plans he has to address this national crisis.”

Mbhele said he expected a detailed plan on how he would address the ‘four Us’, professionalise the police service and ensure fit and proper police leadership.

“It is time for the Minister to step outside of ‘Planet Mbalula’ in his Twitter universe and to make sure the SAPS have what they need to fight crime and ensure safe streets and safe homes in South Africa.”

The SA Institute of Race Relations (IRR) warned that the crime data “show that the police are losing the war on violent crime in the country.”

IRR crime analyst Kerwin Lebone said: “despite the positive spin put on the latest data, there is no conclusion to be reached other than that the police are overwhelmed and failing to hold back the criminal onslaught directed at citizens of the country”.

Lebone said that: “while the murder rate, a critical benchmark for public safety, fell steadily from a high point of 68 murders per 100 000 people in the country in 1996 to 31 per 100 000 in 2012 that downward trajectory has been broken.

“Between 2012 and 2017 the rate increased from 31 per 100 000 to 34 per 100 000, suggesting that this critical benchmark for public safety has stabilised – at a very high level.

“International comparisons show that South Africa’s murder rate is today almost 30 times higher than that in Australia, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.

“A shocking fact is that approximately half a million South Africans have lost their lives due to violence since 1994.”.

He said the trend for other serious crime categories, particularly armed robberies of businesses and homes, is equally concerning.

– The number of armed robberies has increased by 20% over the past decade.
– The number of home invasion robberies has increased by 54% over the past decade
– The number of business robberies has increased by 110% over the past decade.

Lebone said that “these are the types of high priority crimes that should be used as a benchmark of police efficiency. That their numbers are increasing suggests that the police are failing to get the upper hand in the fight against serious and violent crime”.

Kobus Breytenbach, chair of Agri SA’s rural safety committee, also warned that violent crime has increased constantly over the past four years – including those crimes to which farmers and rural communities are most exposed.

He added: “Although all farmers and rural communities worldwide are subjected to crime, South Africa farmers are the exception, given the extreme brutality of farm attacks.

“Over the past few months, many farming communities have been traumatised by the gruesome farm attacks where the victims were subjected to extreme torture.

“More than 8 500 farm attacks and 925 murders have occurred over a period of 14 years, which speaks volumes about the ongoing criminal assault on farmers and farm workers,” said Breytenbach.

Fikile has a big ship to turn around. Hopefully, it isn’t like the Titanic.

Do you have faith in the South African Police Service?

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