On Tuesday, the Police Ministry released crime statistics which showed an increase in various offences, including murder and rape. Hijackings dropped slightly. However, the ministry insisted the country hadn’t reached a state of lawlessness.
Lizette Lancaster of the Institute for Security Studies said although the murder rate was alarming, the police were not solely responsible.
A lot of the murders were driven by social fabric-type crimes, she said. “These are arguments in private spaces that go wrong, assaults that go too far, and police can’t be there.
“Violence has become so much part of our DNA that it is hard to keep a 24-hour eye on it. We first need to denormalise violence before we point fingers at the police."
Police Minister Bheki Cele also blamed the escalated crime rate on the lack of police officers. He said the police were 10000 officers down compared to 2010. “This creates lack of police visibility.” In the same breath he warned officers that they were “dropping the ball”.
In the capital, Pretoria Central, Sunnyside, Brooklyn and Mamelodi East police stations were the busiest in the country between April 2017 and March 2018.
Executive mayor Solly Msimanga said residents had lost faith in the police. They claimed that they reported crime incidents but the police were apathetic and not doing enough to keep the people safe, especially women and children.
He said the SAPS was under- resourced, under-trained, under-equipped and understaffed, and losing the battle to keep South Africans safe.
“Funding to make sure we have a professional and effective police service is available. However, the ANC has chosen to allocate R9.1million to protect each VIP rather than increase what they spend to keep ordinary South Africans safe,” he said.
AfriForum also weighed in, especially with the 62 farm murders, saying the only way to curb crime was to restructure the entire SAPS and put measures in place to get the National Prosecuting Authority to a standard where criminals could be prosecuted effectively.
“Trust in the ability of the country’s law enforcers to fight crime is injured year after year thanks to the high level of serious crimes."
The ANC said the latest crime statistics painted a worrying picture of a continual rise in contact crime. The party’s parliamentary caucus said it appreciated the police’s efforts to fight crime, but the upward trend in the murder rate was of grave concern.
The ANC said provinces with the highest population figures, such as Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, continued to be the most unsafe.