Church leaders and community members gathered in front of Parliaments gates in prayer against gender-based violence plaguing South Africa. Picture: Dylan Jacobs/ African News Agency (ANA)
Crime prevention would significantly reduce violence levels in Gauteng - colloquially known as “gangsters’ paradise”, where 12 people are killed and 23 raped daily - and would be important for growing the economy.

These were the views of experts, who were reacting to Thursday's release of the country's annual crime statistics, which showed that the country was losing the war against crime.

Gauteng, South Africa’s economic hub, emerged as the country’s murder capital with 4 495 murders and a staggering 8 417 rape cases.

The situation becomes dire when looking at crimes against women and children in the province - that is, sexual offences, murder, assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm and so on - which was recorded at 53 837.

This is an increase of 1 497 reported crimes - or a 2.9% jump - from March last year to April this year.

The province also has the ignominy of having the Johannesburg Central and the Hillbrow police stations as the top two out of the country's 30 worst offices when it comes to reported contact or violent crimes.

Miché Roberts, a researcher at the Institute for Security (ISS), argued for a more regular release of the crime figures, saying this would assist with tracking the trends accurately.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said this week that the State's intelligence services failed to assist in preventing the weeks-long spate of xenophobic violent attacks in urban areas, especially in Gauteng, which resulted in 12 deaths, hundreds of injuries and displacements, as well as the looting and destruction of scores of foreign-owned shops.

“The acts are not just sporadic. When you get intelligence, it is meant to guide you, it is meant to help you conduct your operations,” said Mapisa-Nqakula, in an interview on Talk Radio 702.

Reacting to this, the ISS’s Roberts said: “I do think that we need to focus on crime prevention, both as government and civil society.

“Crime prevention might be lacking, but we also need to ask ourselves: What are the trust levels between communities and the police? Is there that open level of communication between the two?”

Police Minister Bheki Cele said yesterday that the government would establish a ministerial advisory council to help reduce the high crime levels.

He said consultations had already commenced.

“This is aimed at gathering knowledge from experts in policing as well as former police generals.

“Last Friday, I had a fruitful meeting with the ISS (Institute for Security Studies).

“I intend to meet other relevant stakeholders in the sector - Corruption Watch, Social Justice Coalition and the academic fraternity,” Cele said