Fighting crime is a national priority
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.