Crime statistics paint a grim picture for South Africa and the Western Cape
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Cape Town - Crime in the country is spiralling out of control and the Western Cape is in the middle of the storm, with a 50% increase in contact crime. Especially worrying is a 74% increase in sex-related crimes.
The grim statistics have prompted the standing committee on community safety in the provincial legislature to invite the provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Thembisile Patekile to explain the horrendous figures.
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz welcomed the release of the crime statistics, saying they have already started looking at the figures more closely and would be making detailed comments in the days to come.
The contact crime category included sub-categories of attempted murder and murder, sexual offences, assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, common assault, and robbery.
Committee chairperson Reagen Allen said they did not accept Police Minister Bheki Cele’s deflection of blame to budgetary cuts and a so-called “crime holiday” as a result of Covid-19 lockdown regulations.
Allen said Western Cape residents deserve a far better explanation for failed crime intelligence and the lack of resources to keep them all safe – ANC internal politics within the national Cabinet can not be the excuse.
He said, despite a broken national police service, they commended the officers in the Western Cape for their efforts that led to a 137% increase in crime detected as a result of police action.
“This indicates greater action from SAPS in the Western Cape, in partnership with the City and the province’s safety resources, when it comes to the confiscation of illegal firearms or the detection of drug related crimes,” said Allen.
ANC provincial spokesperson for community safety Mesuli Kama said they argued countless times that crime was not only a police responsibility, communities have a role to play, yet in the Western Cape they have a government that has been actively involved in destabilising community crime fighting structures.
Kama said the environmental design was a very important component in the fight against crime, yet the provincial government, as well as municipalities, were not held accountable for their part in creating a conducive environment for crime and gangs to thrive.
“The picture painted by the recent crime stats is not by accident, but by design and deliberate actions by the provincial government,” he said.
He said the so-called “Western Cape Safety Plan” was a sham and did not get close to addressing the root causes of crime.
Provincial community policing forum (CPF) board chairperson Fransina Lukas said much more needs to be done by the police and society if "we" want to win the war against crime.
Lukas said the police must step up and devise a turn-around strategy, to decrease violent crime and murder. The increase in violent crime has been consistent for a few years now.
“We need more visible policing and proactive community policing, instead of a reactive approach – where the police arrive on scene after the fact,” she said.
She said they need to intensify social crime prevention programmes with CPF structures, to sensitise communities to gender-based violence, responsible drinking programmes from the liquor industry, men's dialogues on GBV and femicide, mentorship programs for boys, and street committees – who must work closely with CPFs – to identify women and girls at risk.
SA Policing Union (Sapu) spokesperson Lesiba Thobakgale said another critical issue that needs to urgently be addressed is what the minister of police is doing about the ongoing internal battles in the top leadership of the police, both at national level and in the Western Cape.
"This type of in-fighting has a disruptive impact on the ability of Police Crime Intelligence and, as a result, the crime intelligence division is constantly leaderless," said Thobakgale.
Action Society spokesperson Ian Cameron said now, more than ever, it was time for citizens to be legally armed for them to protect themselves, as the police are clearly not fulfilling their responsibility towards South Africans.
Cameron said it seemed that people were faced more directly with social problems, such as domestic violence, during the lockdown. He said in a sample of 5 439 cases, it was found that 3 766 of rape incidents took place at the home of the victim, and 487 were domestic violence-related.