Minister of Police Bheki Cele and his department released crime stats before parliament on Thursday. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town - The persistent rise of violence in South Africa demonstrates that strengthening the rule of law is crucial but not sufficient for improving public safety.

South Africa urgently needs to support violence prevention programmes, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said in response to the latest crime statistics released by the police in Parliament on Thursday.

Head of the Justice and Violence Prevention programme at the ISS, Gareth Newham said police reform and a stronger prosecuting authority are 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  most violent behaviour is learnt in the home and in communities.

Looking at the crime situation as presented by Major General Norman Sekhukhune, the police’s head of crime research and statistics, Western Cape's murder went up from 3 729 to 3 974, sexual offences dropped by 32, from 7 075 to 7 043, attempted murder went up from 3698 to 3860, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm (GBH) went up from 28 583 to 24 488.

Sekhukhune also presented on common assault and said reported cases went up from 38 579 to 39 202, Common robbery decreased from 12003 to 11 355, and robbery with aggravating circumstances decreased from 24 329 to 24 065.

Newham said they are calling for more regular crime statistics to be made available to the public and civil society. 

"The SAPS statistics released are almost six months out of date and do not reflect the current spate of high-profile violent crimes reported in the media."

He said the data covers crimes committed in the financial year from 30 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said during his budget vote, he made several pronouncements of how they intend to turn around the police including re-introduction of units that were disbanded and some units under resourced in the past six years.

"Capacitating specialised units, Detectives, HAWKS and Crime Intelligence was also announced. Part of the pronouncement was the establishment of the Ministerial Advisory Council," Cele said.

He said that is aimed at bringing knowledge and expertise from subject experts in policing, together with former Generals of the police that made a positive impact during their tenure.

"Consultations in this regard have commenced, last week Friday, I had a fruitful meeting with the ISS. I am intending to meet other relevant stakeholders in the sector, Corruption Watch, Social Justice Coalition and the Academic fraternity."

Cele said the joint intergovernmental approach to the fight against crime will yield positive results going forward, "because fighting crime is everybody’s responsibility".

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Cape Argus