KZN weekend crime “not unusual’

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Two men have been beaten to death, allegedly by residents of Sikhobeni in Cofimvaba, Eastern Cape. Photo: Bongiwe Mchunu

Forty murders and 15 hijackings were reported in KwaZulu-Natal at the weekend and although police say these figures are not unusual, they are of concern.

Senior criminologist and crime researcher for the Institute of Security Studies Johan Burger warned that if a national crime-combating strategy was not put in place urgently, we would have more trouble with violent crime.

He said 50 murders a day were reported in the country.

The murder rate in SA is almost 4.5 times more than the world average. The international average is seven murders per 100 000, while in SA it is 31.9 murders per 100 000.

While the incidence of murder has reduced by almost 50 percent in the past 15 years, Burger said the current situation was worrying and remained precarious.

According to a police source, murders were reported in Chatsworth, Nongoma, Inanda, Bergville, Empangeni, Verulam, Harding, Pongola, KwaMashu, Wartburg, Lamontville, Cato Manor, Richards Bay, Pietermaritzburg, Hillcrest, uMlazi, Dundee and Tongaat.

Incidents of hijackings were reported in Isipingo, Pinetown, Wentworth, Umbilo, Umkomaas, Newlands East, Bayview, Chatsworth, KwaDukuza, Richards Bay and uMlazi.

A moratorium on the release of crime statistics prevents police from divulging this information.

Burger said it was difficult for police to prevent murders, and in most instances it was a reactive response.

“There are a combination of factors for the high murder rate. Pre-1994 our country was a militarised society. After democracy, people had the fighting skills, but no war to fight. Many of these people now use those skills to commit violent crimes such as cash-in-transit heists.”

He said police patrols would not help stop murders, but police needed to investigate properly after the crime.

“They need to be more efficient in investigating cases and bringing suspects to book.”

Burger said the conviction rate in SA was about 15 percent compared with other developed countries which stood at 50 percent.

Skills

“Investigation skills are poor and this needs to be improved to ensure criminals don’t stay on the streets and become repeat offenders.”

He called for a national crime-combating strategy.

“The government needs to work together to provide better housing, education and job creation to discourage crime.

“These are all factors that contribute to the present crime situation.”

Burger cautioned that if this was not done, high levels of violence would continue.

Police spokesman Colonel Jay Naicker said crime reported to the 186 police stations in KZN needed to be monitored on a daily, monthly and annual basis to get a proper analysis of the fluctuations in crime.

He said statistics could not be released to the public until they were certified by Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa.

“Any other statistics that are provided to the public would be entirely misleading. To make an assumption that crime is on an increase based on untested statistics over one weekend would be foolish.”

He said in most murders, the victim and suspect knew one another. “Most murders are as a result of alcohol-related arguments, lovers’ tiffs and feuds. Alcohol abuse is a very high contributor to murders. We find a lot of murders take place in and around taverns. Our operations are focused around the policing of these liquor outlets as well as clubs.”

With regard to hijackings, Naicker said there had been a significant decrease over the years.

He said it was a myth that hijackers targeted specific vehicles in specific areas.

Any vehicle would be taken if an opportunity presented itself, Naicker said. He said a provincial task team was focused on hijackings.

“Crime prevention is not only the responsibility of the SAPS, but the public must also play their role in making it difficult for the criminals to see them as easy prey.”

KZN violence monitor Mary de Haas said she was not surprised by the figures.

“This is nothing new. The levels of violent crimes have always been high. In fact, it is abnormally high compared to other parts of the world.

“We obviously have not reached the stage where crime does not pay.”

She said that police were partly to blame for the high crime rate.

“Crime intelligence is a shambles. This is key to fighting crime. Police management is in a state of crisis and this gives criminals the perception that they can run free.”

She suggested that the crime stats be made available on a monthly basis at police stations countrywide so communities could be more aware.

“This way, we will also know that the stats are not being fiddled with. It will give us a true reflection of what is going on.” - Daily News


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