Durban - There are not enough cops, and crime patterns are changing constantly.
This is the reaction of Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairman for Kloof, Corne Broodryk, in reaction to the latest crime statistics.
It was difficult for someone working on the ground to make sense of the statistics, he said.
“Since March, crime has gone up again,” he said analysing his area, which falls under Pinetown.
“That’s because extra resources which were put into Pinetown from quieter areas was later pulled out,” he said.
His Durban North counterpart also said the statistics were old.
“The CPFs are at the coalface of crime and it’s hard to go back a year, we worry about week-to-week statistics,” said Hayden Searles.
Back in Pinetown, criminals have moved their focus from residential areas to businesses, according to both Broodryk and Kloof CPF’s project manager, Nikki Moolman, who put this down to the development of neighbourhood watches.
Moolman said she believed the statistics the police produced for Pinetown for the year ending in March this year were convincing, except for the murder statistic of only 25, which she felt should be higher.
She said much unreported crime was unaccounted for at places like the Pinetown taxi rank where “whoonga boys are a nightmare”.
“Taxi commuters are petrified,” she said.
Further up the Highway, DA councillor Rick Crouch put high housebreaking statistics in the Hillcrest policing area down to inadequate police visibility due to a shortage of resources.
“It’s not the fault of the Hillcrest police station but rather the SAPS. There have been two station commanders in the past seven to eight months.”
One was Colonel Anton Myburgh, who the community petitioned to have remain, rather than be transferred after having turned the station around to the best it had been in 20 years. They disregarded the petition. What does that tell you?” asked Crouch.
To the north of the city, Greenwood Park CPF chairman Robin Candy said while he had not yet had the opportunity to look at specific station statistics, his sub-forum’s indications were that crime had decreased in the area.
“Seven years ago we had 30 housebreakings a week, now we have five housebreakings a week. With social media we are more aware of what crime is taking place, but crime is down.
Greenwood Park’s statistics showed both carjacking and house robbery had dropped every year. “We have 17 informal settlements as well as higher income properties, so there is a huge mix of people,” said Candy.
Vuyani Msomi, provincial convenor of CPFs said Durban Central was a key focus area, where most robberies and other crimes took place.
At Durban Central police station, murder cases rose from 29 in the previous year to 55 for the present year. Sexual assault cases, which include rape, went up 5 percent and aggravated robbery went up 4 percent.
Sam Pillay, who heads the Anti Drug Forum in Chatsworth, said combating drugs was imperative in fighting crime.
In Chatsworth, drug related crimes, murder and sexual assault were still prevalent.
“Statistics can be interpreted any which way, but for us the reality is down on the ground. We see entire families being destroyed, addicts resorting to crime to sustain their habits, and it breaks down communities. This is why the fight against drugs is so important, we need to intervene before the drug user gets to the stage where he or she is stealing from their own home and selling items to buy drugs, and before they assault people and rob them to get their next fix,” he said.
Pillay said their school intervention programmes were popular and educated children on the impact of drug use.
In Umbilo, murder cases shot up dramatically from five cases in the previous year to 17 for the present period.
Umbilo CPF chairman, Thabo Kadikadi, said it was concerning that contact crimes, such as murder, sexual assault and aggravated robbery, had all risen.
“It’s an indication that we all need to work together to stop crime. High walls do not solve the problem, we all need to unite and fight crime. Our problem in Umbilo is that our police station does not have enough manpower, and we hope that we will get more officers soon,” he said.
In Pietermaritzburg, a source in the security sector who did not wish to be named called aspects of the statistics “wishful thinking” and doubted the statistics reflecting a reduction in murder and attempted murder.
Richards Bay’s CPF chairman Robert Mbuyazi said while the statistics had not shown a drastic increase, there was still concern over the increase in residential robbery.
Richards Bay reflected an increase in residential robbery, theft of motor vehicles and drug-related crime.
Enforce director Anthony Feuilherade said SAPS statistics were definitely indicative of what it was being seen daily.
He said the increase in schedule one offences - serious and violent crimes - was particularly alarming, adding that what was even more worrying, was that the majority were being committed by repeat offenders.