Crime Stats: Police officers being 'hamstrung by management failures'
News / 13 September 2019, 10:02am / Sisonke Mlamla
Cape Town - The war on crime is fast becoming a losing battle, as the latest crime statistics show it is spiralling out of control.
The Western Cape is once again the most violent province with 11 of the top 30 stations recording the highest murder rates.
Police stations that recorded the highest increase in its murder rates include Ravensmead (50.8%), Bishop Lavis (46%), Delft (26.7%), Harare (16.9%), Grassy Park (69%), Elsies River (67%) and Muizenberg (64.5%).
The head of the justice and violence prevention programme at the Institute for Security Studies, Gareth Newham said police reform and a stronger prosecuting authority were needed in the shorter term.
“But while effective criminal justice is necessary, it is not sufficient to improve public safety. 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,” Newham said.
He said most violent behaviour was learnt in the home and in communities.
Director of the safety and violence initiative at UCT Guy Lamb said in the Western Cape a key concern was that murder levels continue to rise.
Lamb said the average increase in murder for the three police stations serving Khayelitsha was 28%.
“There was an urgent need for government, including the police, to develop sustainable crime reduction interventions in those areas and other high-crime neighbourhoods. The persistent rise of crime in South Africa demonstrates that strengthening the rule of law is crucial, but not sufficient for improving public safety,” he said.
Mayor Dan Plato said there was a complete breakdown in the criminal justice system, “from policing to prosecutions”.
“For 10 years we have seen the crime rate go up year after year for some of the most serious categories”.
Norman Sekhukhune, head of crime research and statistics in the police, presented the information and the analysis of contact crimes, which included: murder, rape, attempted murder, assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, common assault, common robbery, aggravated robbery and sexual assault.
Plato said those were some of the crimes that residents feared most and they continued to increase with no end in sight. He said yet the same managers within the police have been in charge in the province under the failure to deal with crime for the past decade.
“The policemen and women on the ground are doing their best in very difficult circumstances, but they are hamstrung by management failures and their lives are put at risk,” he said.
Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said it was imperative for the provincial government to hasten the intergovernmental dispute against the national government to return the 4500 police officers that have been lost by the province over the past four years.
“Even more important than the policing patrol resources, is the crisis around detective services and investigations, closely linked to the failure of crime intelligence,” he said.
Premier Alan Winde said he was concerned by the in crease in murders in the province. A safety plan which will focus on enforcement and protection was being worked on, he said.
“We will announce this plan soon.
“In the meantime, we continue our call for policing to become a provincial mandate, as these statistics have shown that the nationally managed police have lost the war on crime.”
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said his department would conduct an in-depth analysis of the crime stats, “in order to shed more light on specific trends, crime categories and a suite of proposed responses”.
According to the statistics released in Parliament yesterday, there were 21022 murders, an increase of 686 from the previous financial year.
Asked if heads would roll as he had indicated last year, Police Minister Bheki Cele said they would never be worse than they were last year.
“The worst we can do is begin to stagnate and then begin to reverse.
“That’s why I made that point. We have halved the figure 1320 to 686.
“So we believe we have stagnated. Ours now is to reverse,” Cele said.