Fight­ing crime is a na­tional pri­or­ity

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All South Africans must work to­gether to fight crime

Tack­ling crime in South Africa re­quires a con­certed ef­fort from all sec­tors of so­ci­ety as it is an is­sue of na­tional in­ter­est. This is ac­cord­ing to Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula, who re­cently re­leased crime sta­tis­tics for the fi­nan­cial year 2016/17.

“The pub­lic must be proac­tively in­volved in ef­forts to fight crime. Crime should be ad­dressed by all of us as an is­sue of na­tional in­ter­est and pri­or­ity. We must not score po­lit­i­cal points over this is­sue.”

He added that re­duc­ing lev­els of crime is in the coun­try's na­tional in­ter­est as no one is im­mune to the im­pact of crime.

“Crime knows no race, no creed, no re­li­gion and cer­tainly no so­cial strata.”

Crime stats an im­por­tant tool

The Min­is­ter stressed that the crime sta­tis­tics were an im­por­tant tool to mea­sure crime pat­terns and as­sisted in crime pre­ven­tion strate­gies.

The South African Po­lice Ser­vice (SAPS) has en­tered into a part­ner­ship with Sta­tis­tics South Africa to give the sta­tis­tics more in­tegrity.

“We sim­ply can­not fight against an en­emy we do not un­der­stand. We get to un­der­stand the pat­terns, the oc­cur­rences and types of crimes through the sta­tis­tics so that we may plan ac­cord­ingly.The in­tegrity of crime sta­tis­tics is very im­por­tant and the pub­lic must trust that no clever ac­count­ing has been done,” he ex­plained.

How­ever, fig­ures should not only be taken as raw data, as they rep­re­sent "hu­man lives and hu­man emo­tions".

“Crime in­volves high emo­tions. We must not see sta­tis­tics purely as num­bers. Be­hind the num­bers are real feel­ings, real lives, real harm, real losses, hurt and feel­ings of [be­ing un­safe].

“These sta­tis­tics rep­re­sent the mem­ory of that grue­some rape or mur­der, the fear­ful home in­va­sion. Peo­ple are los­ing their chil­dren to heinous crimes and drug dens. Our peo­ple have no-go ar­eas due to crim­i­nal­ity. I ac­knowl­edge that our peo­ple live un­der siege from crime.”

What the stats say

In the fi­nan­cial year un­der re­view, ap­prox­i­mately 2.1 mil­lion se­ri­ous crime counts were recorded, of which

1 738 980 were com­mu­nity-re­ported se­ri­ous crimes.The lat­ter de­creased by 1.8 per­cent com­pared to the 2015/16 fi­nan­cial year.

This de­crease was driven mainly by re­duc­tions in all the broad crime cat­e­gories, namely con­tact-re­lated crime (a de­crease of 3.3 per­cent), con­tact crime (a de­crease of 2.4 per­cent), other se­ri­ous crime (a de­crease of 2.0

per­cent) and prop­erty-re­lated crime (a de­crease of 0.5 per­cent).

In 2016/17, 19 019 cases of mur­der were re­ported to the po­lice, which was an in­crease of 1.8 per­cent. In the previous year 18 673 cases were re­ported.

Sex­ual of­fences de­creased by 4.3 per­cent when com­pared to 2015/16, while at­tempted mur­der in­creased by 0.4 per­cent.

As­sault with in­tent to do griev­ous bod­ily harm de­creased by 6.7 per­cent.

Rob­bery with ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances, which in­cludes car­jack­ing, res­i­den­tial and non-res­i­den­tial robberies, truck hi­jack­ing, cash-in-tran­sit robberies and bank robberies, in­creased by 6.4 per­cent from 132 527 re­ported cases in 2015/16 to 140 956 cases in 2016/17.

Car­jack­ing rose by 14.5 per­cent dur­ing the pe­riod un­der re­view, rob­bery at res­i­den­tial premises went up by 7.3 per­cent and rob­bery at non-res­i­den­tial premises in­creased by five per­cent.

Com­mon as­sault and com­mon rob­bery de­creased by 5.2 per­cent and 1.3 per­cent re­spec­tively.

No time to waste

In light of these sta­tis­tics, the Min­is­ter said there was no time to waste in ef­forts to fight crime and make com­mu­ni­ties safer.

“Yes, we have a 1.8 per­cent drop in crime, I do not feel it, and our peo­ple do not feel it and they are cor­rect. We have a drop in sex­ual vi­o­lence, but we have more and more pic­tures of our women go­ing miss­ing. Peo­ple must feel the drop in crime where they live.

In an ef­fort to boost the fight against crime, the SAPS is strength­en­ing its ca­pac­ity.

“We are ap­point­ing strate­gic thinkers in po­lice man­age­ment and sta­bil­is­ing our Crime In­tel­li­gence Divi­sion to en­able in­tel­li­gence-led crime pre­ven­tion and polic­ing. We have re-launched spe­cialised units to fo­cus on drugs, rape, vi­o­lent threats and vi­o­lent crim­i­nals. We are en­hanc­ing our tech­no­log­i­cal ca­pac­ity to match the evolved dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy arena.

“Im­por­tantly, I have di­rected po­lice to fo­cus on crime modus op­eradi to curb the mul­ti­plier ef­fect of crime.”

In­no­va­tive crime fight­ing meth­ods needed

In a later brief­ing with jour­nal­ists, Min­is­ter Mbalula said the re­lease of the an­nual crime sta­tis­tics must lead to ef­forts that will make a dent in crime.

While the re­lease of crime sta­tis­tics was a way for po­lice to ac­count, it must lead to in­no­va­tive meth­ods for fight­ing crime, such as smart polic­ing, he added.

“I have told [the po­lice top brass] that in­ter­ven­tions like smart polic­ing need to hap­pen. We must go back to ba­sics. We don't need to be told by our peo­ple that we are in the era of dig­i­tal mi­gra­tion. We need to do that our­selves so that we can am­plify polic­ing and im­prove our ap­proach to crime pre­ven­tion.”

The Min­is­ter said a num­ber of ar­eas needed ad­dress­ing go­ing for­ward. These in­clude in­ten­si­fy­ing polic­ing and en­sur­ing that the ap­proach against crime is more “com­bat­ive”.

“I don't want to give [crim­i­nals] space to breathe. If you are a crim­i­nal, you must know that you are in a hot spot.

“Our com­bat­ive ap­proach must be in­ten­si­fied.The Tac­ti­cal Re­sponse Team has gone for a re­fresher course,” he added.

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