Johannesburg - The continued increase in murder and armed robbery was a sign of the police's inability to get a grip on serious violent crimes, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said on Tuesday. 

This despite an increase in budget by 50% since 2011/2012 to R87 billion. 

The South African Police Service (SAPS) earlier released the 2016/2017 crime statistics, which showed an overall decrease in crime by 1.8% while murder and carjackings saw an increase of 1.8% and 14.5% respectively. 

Aggravated robbery increased by 6.4% while sexual offences decreased by 4.3% and assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH) by 6.7%.

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Gareth Newham, head of the ISS Justice and Violence Prevention Programme, blamed political interference for SAPS's inability to get a handle on serious crimes. 

"Ongoing political interference at all levels of the SAPS has severely weakened the organisation."

"The root of the crime and policing crises [is also] the failure of the president to appoint a highly experienced woman or man of integrity as national commissioner."

Another factor Newham cited was the political protection Zuma loyalist, Crime Intelligence Head Lt-General Richard Mdluli, enjoyed despite facing criminal prosecution for murder and corruption.

"The protection of Mdluli has severely undermined and compromised police crime intelligence capability. This is why police cannot adequately tackle organised crime syndicates behind crimes such as hijackings and gang violence."

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Newham also questioned the exclusion of corruption from the statistics, despite it being a criminal threat to South Africa’s economy and social cohesion.

He added that corruption undermined public safety "as it weakens the economy, breaks down confidence in government and leads to community frustration".

"The public need to see that the police are proactively tackling this profound threat to our national security," he said.

Newham said some of the few ways police could step up their fight against crime would be to improve their crime fighting capabilities, the manner in which evidence is gathered as well as the way in which perpetrators are apprehended. 

"This requires police to earn the trust of communities and reverse a decline in trust levels," he said.