Crime stats point to a pos­i­tive trend

CityPress - - Voices -

There was room for cau­tious op­ti­mism on Fri­day, fol­low­ing the re­lease of the coun­try’s crime sta­tis­tics for the first nine months of the 2016/17 fi­nan­cial year.

Yes, the mur­der rate is still hor­rific: only 10 fewer peo­ple (14 333) were mur­dered be­tween April and De­cem­ber 2016 than dur­ing the cor­re­spond­ing pe­riod the pre­vi­ous year, with a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber lost to do­mes­tic, taxi and elec­tion-re­lated vi­o­lence.

Yes, the armed rob­bery rate is worse, with 107 445 cases so far in 2016/17, mark­ing a 6.1% rise.

And yes, the num­ber of rapes re­ported has been re­duced by 6.5%, which is bad news be­cause rape vic­tims only re­port the crime if they be­lieve the po­lice will do some­thing about it.

But still there is room for op­ti­mism. Why? Be­cause a cor­ner was turned on Fri­day.

In Par­lia­ment, the crime sta­tis­tics were an­nounced by Ma­jor-Gen­eral Nor­man Sekhukhune, the po­lice’s head of re­search and crime sta­tis­tics. There was no fan­fare by Act­ing Na­tional Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Lieu­tenant Gen­eral Kho­motso Phahlane, and no plat­i­tudes from Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Nh­leko.

Best of all, there was no gloss­ing over the fig­ures, as for­mer po­lice boss Riah Phiyega did, com­par­ing them to those of nine years prior in a des­per­ate bid to con­vince us that the ser­vice was not tank­ing un­der her watch.

Fri­day’s was a nor­mal brief­ing with fig­ures barely two months old – not six months old, like they usu­ally are – given to us straight.

What the fig­ures also show is that Phahlane’s back-to­ba­sics pro­gramme is hav­ing some ef­fect. Fig­ures from the last quar­ter (Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber) of the three­quar­ter pe­riod re­ported on show an im­prove­ment in most crimes, ex­cept for armed rob­bery. Phahlane, for all his flaws and the cur­rent case against him by po­lice watch­dog the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Direc­torate, is an ex­pe­ri­enced ca­reer cop. Who will re­place him if the axe falls? Another ca­reer cop, we hope; one who will ac­cel­er­ate this down­ward trend.

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