ARE WE LOSING THE FIGHT AGAINST CRIME?
What will be done to reverse the trend?
AS CRIME-weary South Africans digest the news that murders, home invasions and hijackings are rising, the question on everyone’s minds is when will the government and policing authorities try to reverse the alarming trend?
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko yesterday (Tuesday) released crime statistics for 2014/15 that show there were 782 more murders committed across the country – a 4.6% increase – than in the previous reporting period.
A total of 17 805 people were killed in South Africa between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015.
Briefing Parliament’s portfolio committee on police, national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega revealed that 49 of the murders in the past financial year were committed by children, while 884 of the killings were perpetrated by youths aged between 18 and 25.
Phiyega said they took a closer look at the murder rate in KwaZulu-Natal as a case study.
“During the reporting period, we found that 61% of the murders occurred over weekends, and 40% between 6pm and 12pm (in KZN),” she said.
“It is also disturbing to note, on average we record 11 murders per day, but 55 murders were reported on Christmas day, and 54 murders on New Year’s Day (in KZN).”
Car hijackings nationally increased by 14.2% with 1 593 more hijackings reported.
There were also almost 1 000 more home invasions, with house robberies (where people are present) increasing by 5.2% nationally.
And while there has been a decrease in certain serious crimes including murder and house robberies in areas such as Chatsworth, Phoenix and Pietermaritzburg, the drop has been minimal.
In Durban North, Sydenham, Verulam, and oThongathi (Tongaat) there has been a spike in murders.
Sydenham had seven house robberies in the 2013/4 reporting period and 71 during 2014/5.
House robberies in Westville trebled, from 21 to 69.
After the number of hijackings in Isipingo decreased last year, they spiked once again, from 81 cases to 110.
In Chatsworth, hijackings increased from 113 to 188.
The township also had almost 1 000 house burglaries, an increase from the previous period.
In Tongaat, which was seen as the crime hot spot last year, most crimes, except murder, had decreased.
There were 6 306 more drugrelated crimes reported nationally during 2014/15, taking the number to 266 902.
Attempted murder and robbery with aggravated circumstances had spiked and truck hijacking had increased by 29.1%.
One of the crimes which saw a decrease was driving under the influence on alcohol and drugs, which dropped by 1.7%. There were 1 164 fewer cases reported.
The number of sexual offences cases reported nationally decreased by 5.4% with almost 3 000 fewer cases than the previous period.
Nhleko said that overall contact crimes – including murder, attempted murder, assault and robbery with aggravating circumstances – had increased by 0.9 %.
Other contact-related crimes, which include arson and malicious damage to property, rose by 1.9%.
Political analyst Imraan Baccus said in many African countries there had always been a link between democratisation and an increase in violence and crime.
“So the crime statistics are not completely surprising.
“But crime needs to be urgently addressed as it is uppermost on people’s minds and is destroying confidence in South Africa.
“Unfortunately, the government has handled our epidemic of violent crime very badly.
“The militarisation of the police and the ‘shoot to kill’ debacle under (former police commissioner) Bheki Cele has only escalated violence. “We are not going to be able to resolve our very real crime problem without radical reforms to the police,” Baccus said.
“Unfortunately, there does not seem to be any political will to tackle the degeneration of our police force, even under current police commissioner Riah Phiyega.
“So the relevant powers need to urgently go back to the drawing board.”
– Additional reporting by ANA
What are your thoughts? Are the crime statistics a true reflection of the current situation in the country? E-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org.