A Nyanga resident says until police and communities work together, crime rates will not drop sufficiently. Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency (Ana)
Cape Town - There has been cautious optimism in the Nyanga police precinct over the drop in the majority of violent crimes, despite the area retaining its title of murder capital following the release of the 2018/19 crime statistics by the SAPS this week.

The station recorded a 6.2% decrease in its murder rate, dropping from 308 for the 2017/2018 financial year, to 289 for the current year.

The Samora Machel station - which was opened in November as a relief effort to the overburdened Nyanga station - recorded 30 murders in the four months that statistics were recorded.

There have been questions around whether the drop in the murder rate in the area could be attributed to better policing, or that cases from the Samora Machel precinct previously under Nyanga are now being recorded at the satellite station.

However, despite remaining in the top 30 stations in a variety of crime categories, Nyanga has seen notable decreases.

The station remained number one for carjacking, even with a 1.1% decrease.

It also saw decreases in incidents of robberies with aggravated circumstances at 6%, decreases in common robbery and assault with grievous bodily harm, as well as a 4.7% decrease in attempted murder cases - but recorded a 30.3% increase in kidnapping cases.

Some residents said while they welcomed the drop in some crime categories, more still needed to be done to ensure that Nyanga moved away from the number one spot.

Mawande Sebenzani, 42, said the problem of Nyanga being the murder capital was “old as time”.

“People here are not even surprised when we hear about this again and that makes you question how we have normalised living in a violent society.

“My kids walk to school and pass murder scenes, my neighbours are robbed and sometimes don’t even bother reporting the case because you know nothing is going to happen with it.

“The change for Nyanga needs to start from within the community who stand up against what we have normalised as our reality.

“They can have a thousand more police here but if they are not effective and are not working with the community, we will remain the murder capital for the next 10 or 20 years,” Sebenzani said.

The Social Justice Coalition’s Dalli Weyers who, together with the Nyanga Community Policing Forum, took the SAPS to court for a lack of allocation of police resourcing to poor communities, said it was important to keep track of statistics from both Nyanga and Samora Machel over the years - to see whether crime was decreasing overall in both precincts.

“In the precinct that was previously Nyanga, the murder rate did not drop. So for a while we can make comparisons on a year-on-year basis, we can keep in mind that these police precincts have been split in two and we will not be hoodwinked into thinking crime is going down; we can still go and look at what the real picture is,” Weyers said.

“Hopefully, in the long run, we can see a combined reduction in Nyanga/Samora Machel because of the greater access and responsiveness to needs of residents because they are closer to the people.”

Weyers said while the issue of having more police wouldn’t necessarily solve crime if policing methods are ineffective, greater access in the form of a nearby police station would increase reported crimes.

Meanwhile, in Khayelitsha, residents have been fighting for a fourth police station since the conclusion of the Khayelitsha commission of inquiry found the need for one in Makhaza.

Weekend Argus