Crime figures a wake-up call – experts
Cape Town - Alarming increases in serious violent crime, including murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery, should serve as a wake-up call for all South Africans, according to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
“For the first time in democracy, we’ve had two consecutive years where murder has increased,” said Gareth Newham, head of the institute’s governance, crime and justice division.
Murder had gone up by 650 cases in the previous cycle and in the period reported on on Friday, it had gone up again by 809 cases.
“That is four additional murders every day on average in the most recent financial year,” Newham said. “It’s no longer a slight spike. This is a fundamental shift in violence that results in murder, and it’s going up.”
Along with increases in attempted murder and aggravated robbery, this showed it was time for a new approach to reducing violent crime.
Newham welcomed Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s promise of a national dialogue on reducing crime and violence.
He also welcomed Nhleko’s commitment to implementing recommendations of the National Development Plan on policing, including the establishment of a policing board to foster professionalism and the demilitarisation of the police.
ISS senior research fellow Dr Chandre Gould said high levels of violence undermined investor confidence, drove up costs in the health sector and had a negative impact on all sectors of society.
“There are multiple and complex reasons for high rates of violence and these cannot be addressed only by the police or criminal justice sector,” she said.
A key to reducing violence in society was to reduce violence against children.
“We need to support parents, caregivers and families,” Gould said.
“There are effective evidence-based programmes that have been developed in South Africa and have shown improved bonding between caregivers and infants, and improved cognitive development of young children. We need to make these available to all parents in South Africa.”
She queried the credibility of the figures for rape, which showed a 6.3 percent drop, saying in light of the increase in the other contact crimes this was an “anomaly”.
Francois Beukman, ANC MP and chairman of Parliament’s police oversight committee, said the SAPS and all other stakeholders needed to devise strategies to reduce the number of murders.
The police could not win the fight against crime alone.
He said the committee was resolved to make sure the SAPS improved its detective services, which could go a long way in dealing effectively with some crimes.
DA spokeswoman on police Dianne Kohler Barnard said the party was “deeply concerned for all South Africans” in light of the figures for violent crime.
The number of deaths resulting from murder was “what one would expect to be reported from a country at war”.
The figures confirmed the experience of many that crime was getting worse.
FF+ spokesman on police Pieter Groenewald said at 32.2 per 100 000 of the population, South Africa’s murder rate was nearly five times the world average of 7 per 100 000. “The public therefore has reason to feel unsafe,” Groenewald said.