Latest KZN crime stats paint ‘worrying’ picture

Yellow police tape with police officers in the background.

File picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.

Published Feb 20, 2023

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Durban - Crime experts have raised concerns after third-quarter crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday revealed that the Inanda, uMlazi and KwaMashu police stations were among those in the country which had recorded high numbers of murders and rapes.

In the period from October 1 to December 31 last year, Inanda police station recorded 87 murders and 83 rapes, KwaMashu police station 56 murders, and uMlazi police station 51 murders and 71 rapes.

In the province as a whole, all major crime categories saw increases, with murder up by 8.3%, rape up by 13.3% and hijackings up by 19.8%. House robberies increased by 18.5% and business robberies went up marginally by 1.1%.

Gareth Newham, head of the justice and violence prevention programme at the Institute for Security Studies, said the murder rate per 100 000 people had increased by 68% in the past decade.

“This is driven mostly by increases in organised criminality and the inability of the police to use their resources strategically and effectively to identify and dismantle these networks.”

Newham added that the fact that most violent crimes continued to increase showed that what was currently being done was not working.

“There is a serious need for police reform to address corruption and make better use of their vast resources. These trends started over a decade ago, and it is worrying that there has been no notable change in the policing approach to address it.”

KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas said that these increases were alarming, but not surprising.

“Mass shootings are becoming more common, and it is obvious that the gun situation is out of control. Rape is generally under-reported. All rape is serious, but what appears to be an escalation in the rape of children is most worrying of all.”

De Haas said there was a worryingly high number of unlicensed firearms in circulation.

“What the stats show is alarming, especially (figures relating to) semi-automatic guns used in mass shootings and drive-by shootings, which are definitely becoming more common. Some are classifying these incidents as massacres.

“Also very worrying is the abundance of ammunition. The gun and ammo situation is out of control, and nothing is done about it. We need a forensic audit of all gun shops and guns held by security companies.”

Zodwa Mlaba, chairperson of the KwaMashu community policing forum (CPF), said there was too much crime in the area.

“We are doing our best and are aware of the crimes, which include murders, car hijackings and house robberies. One of the issues that we face is that the police response takes too long. It can take two hours for police to respond to a crime.”

Nhlakanipho Ngcobo, chairperson of the Inanda CPF, said there were several factors contributing to crime in the area.

“The issue is that crime is high because of no infrastructure and informal settlements. There are so many people who are unemployed and without an education who are turning to crime. The other issue is alcohol abuse in Inanda, which leads to more crime.”

THE MERCURY