Cape Town - Women continue to be the most vulnerable group to fall victim to crime.
This is according to the latest crime statistics for 2018/19 which revealed that 36366 incidents - ranging from rape, sexual offences, attempted murder, assault with grievous bodily harm and common assault - were recorded in the Western Cape in the past financial year.
The province also ranked second to Gauteng for the highest number of crimes committed against women. Sexual assault in the province was up by 2.7%, with Mitchells Plain, Nyanga, Gugulethu, Manenberg and Mfuleni taking the top five spots in the top 30 stations in the country.
Meanwhile, 3474 females were reportedly raped, down 20% from the previous year’s stats.
The Western Cape also came in at number four for kidnappings, with robbery flagged as the highest contributor at 458 reported incidents. The high number of female police officers who have fallen victim to crime was also revealed - standing at 10. All the victims were killed while off-duty. The stats reveal that of the 49 officers killed while off-duty, 16 of the incidents were domestic related.
Dr Sianne Alves, director at the Office for Inclusivity and Change at UCT said it was important for crime statistics to further break down the types of crimes - such as murders, to better understand the situation.
“While we have women and children included in the data, we could be doing more while focusing on murder as one category, we could represent those crimes that affect our most marginalised and vulnerable group. So for example, can we begin to see categories for femicide, hate crimes. As ordinary citizens, we need to start seeing our reality so we can understand what needs to be done to better understand the behaviours that increase crime in South Africa.”
“We need the data to represent who the crimes are affecting the most so that we can collectively activate awareness and prevention techniques, learn from the districts that were presented in the data that have vast scourges of crimes in the areas.
“Crime stats are informing us that (crimes) are occurring in our homes and communities, particularly over the weekend, but are not only affecting the general citizens but our police officers and their homes. How can we activate the community and civil society, together with the police to design and implement a multisectoral approach that is focused at the behaviours around crimes, their location and times.”
However, SAPS statistician Major-General Norman Sekhukhune said without collective understanding of concepts such as femicide and xenophobia, it was difficult to track and measure them so that they could be reported.
Andrew Faull with the Institute for Security Studies said the approach needed for dealing with gender-based violence (GBV) was twofold and required support by both the state and the community.
“If I hear my neighbour being beaten again this weekend, I should call the state to intervene through police and they should respond swiftly and enforce the Domestic Violence Act and follow up to check that household hasn’t experienced further violence, and that kind of action isn’t happening,” he said.
“So if we can nip domestic violence in the bud through the state and looking out for one another, then we will start to see a shift in GBV, and of course, we need to address our violence-accepting norms which would require primary violence prevention interventions such as anti-bullying in schools, positive parenting interventions. Those interventions won’t work unless they know police won’t follow up.”