Cape Town - Government has intensified the fight against serious crimes, Justice Minister Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.
“We have intensified the fight against crime to protect our hard-won constitutional rights and build a society where people are and feel safe,” he said in a speech prepared for delivery.
“In general, over the past nine years, 2004/5 to 2012/13, incidents of crime declined against the increase in population figures.”
He was speaking during a Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster briefing in Cape Town.
Murder had declined by 27.2 percent over the last nine years, with a further reduction of 16.6 percent during the past four years.
“Reduced crime levels can be attributed to the increase in visible policing and improved crime-combating initiatives, which were part of the National Crime Prevention Strategy,” the minister said.
Improvements in investigations, conviction rates and the imposition of harsher sentences also contributed as disincentives to crime.
He said conviction rates had increased remarkably in the past five years in organised crime, sexual offences and trio crimes (hijacking, murder and business robberies).
“Most of the people arrested for serious crimes have received harsher sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment.”
At least 12,104 people have been sentenced to between 15 to 20 years in prison, 9438 sentenced for more than 20 years, and 12 443 sent to prison for life sentences.
Radebe said conviction rates in relation to organised crime cases were at 87.9 percent, while conviction rates in relation to trio crimes cases was at 84.7 percent.
The conviction rate in relation to sexual offence cases was at 66.7 percent.
Radebe said several surveys were showing that more people were beginning to feel safer.
“In line with our own findings, in October 2013, the US-based IHS Crime Index released a report which found that crime in South Africa is at its lowest level in 15 years,” he said.
Radebe said the justice cluster was encouraged by the courts which have demonstrated an aggressive stance in addressing the scourge of sexual violence in the country.
“Our courts have imposed severe sentences in two prominent cases with the rapist and killer of Anene Booysen being sentenced to 25 years and the Tholeni serial rapist and killer, from Butterworth in the Eastern Cape, to 25 life terms,” he said.
The convictions affirmed that government's investments were beginning to yield the desired results.