Durban — Crime experts say police visibility could be one of the crime-fighting solutions for a country at war with itself.
Journalist and anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee said police visibility is part of the solution; more police and resources were needed on the ground, and police must get their act together.
This was after Police Minister Bheki Cele released the quarter two crime statistics for 2022. KwaZulu-Natal topped the list with provinces with high crime rates. Cele said the province recorded the highest number of multiple murders, followed by Gauteng and the Western Cape.
Abramjee said it was important for the police budget to be increased so that more resources could be added. He said police were finding it hard to cope under the present circumstances.
“The crime stats again show criminals are running amok in KZN. In many police stations, including Inanda, crime levels have gone up again dramatically which is a source of great concern. Police are running from pillar to post.”
Abramjee said police were “hopelessly under-resourced” and criminals were taking advantage of that. Moreover, he said, Cele was trying to contain the fires but it was difficult. Crime levels will increase this festive season, as criminals try their luck.
Abramjee said political will, stability, leadership and police morale were needed.
“While we point fingers at police and rightly so, it is important for communities to also take the lead within the framework of the law and within the structures established like community policing forums. Let’s get involved and put pressure on the police and hold them to account,” he said.
Professor of Criminology at the University of KwaZulu Natal, Nirmal Gopal, said there would be a difference if police visibility was enhanced. But she cautioned there were some crime categories that even visible policing might not reduce, such as interpersonal violence, domestic violence, and femicide that occur in more private spaces.
“There is bound to be a difference with enhanced visible policing, as we witnessed during the 2010 Fifa World Cup. Citizens should feel safer when they see more police officers. Perhaps coupled with this initiative, the province might want to consider setting up transitional courts that replicate the courts set up during the same period,” Gopal said.
When police deploy more officers, it must evaluate its effectiveness, she said.
An external body should undertake the evaluation, and police officers should be told beforehand that the evaluation will occur.
“In addition, an independent public line should be set up that communities and individuals can call to share their experiences (good or bad) with the SAPS service delivery. This will encourage accountability for all stakeholders. The SAPS should create crime hotlines and work closely with community policing forums.
“Partner with private crime-fighting initiatives and resources. Work with existing business crime-fighting strategies. Advertise a zero-tolerance crime approach, and follow through with intervention strategies that crystalise this notion,” she said.
Gopal said this was an opportunity for the SAPS to transform the poor image that citizens have of them and protect the people of KZN.
Political parties have also criticised Cele over the high crime statistics.
IFP MPL Blessed Gwala told our sister paper the Sunday Tribune that the statistics are not a true reflection of the actual status quo at grass-roots level as most of the cases reported never make it to the courts.
DA KZN community safety and liaison spokesperson Sharon Hoosen said the statistics reflected the real-life experiences of KZN’s people. She said they also point directly to a government that does not value the personal safety of its people.