Pretoria - Crime levels continue to drop, contrary to public perceptions at home and abroad in the wake of the shooting of Reeva Steenkamp by Oscar Pistorius and reports of rape and murder.
This was the view on Sunday of Justice Minister Jeff Radebe, who said that surveys conducted by the government showed South Africans were starting to feel safe.
Radebe said the US, for example, had its fair share of violent crime like incidents of people going on wild shooting sprees, killing scores of children, as in the case in Connecticut where 20 children were killed by a heavily armed gunman.
Radebe was reacting after being informed of a tweet by international talk show host Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, who said the country’s crime rate was back in the spotlight in America since the shooting of Steenkamp on February 14. She said everywhere she went she had to defend the country and “can’t even show off my SA pics in my bag”.
Radebe said: “The levels of crime continue to drop and contrary to the current discourse, more people are beginning to feel safe. There is an increase of 8 percent in the public appreciation of how the government is doing in reducing crime levels compared to five years ago.”
These findings were encouraging and in line with the 2011/12 SAPS national crime statistics report.
On Mabuza-Suttle, Radebe said as a South African he expected her to defend her country.
“The issue that has brought Pistorius into the world spotlight is because of the personality, Oscar Pistorius, who is a legend in terms of Paralympic athletics in the world. It’s nothing that reflects that the levels of crime have increased in South Africa. The statistics show that, the survey that was done shows that, so these are the cold facts.”
The Pistorius murder trial should be separated from general crime, he said. “How many times have you (tuned into) CNN and BBC World and see mad people in America shooting children in schools. Statistics tell us violent crime in South Africa is going down. The survey indicates people’s satisfaction that we are doing something about it, not that we have solved all our country’s crime problems.
But looking back to 2009 and where we are in 2013 we are satisfied we are making progress.”
He said the Victims of Crime Survey 2012 showed 38 percent of South Africans believed the level of violent crime had decreased in their area of residence, 33 percent said it had increased and 29 percent believed crime had stayed the same.