KZN: SOUTH AFRICA’S MUR­DER CAP­I­TAL

Twelve people killed a day in the prov­ince, mainly women and chil­dren

The Mercury - - FRONT PAGE - KAILENE PILLAY and CHANTALL PRES­ENCE

KWAZULU-Natal is the mur­der cap­i­tal of South Africa, with an av­er­age of 12 people a day be­ing killed.

The prov­ince also ranks first in the coun­try for the mur­der of women and chil­dren. The statistics show that 665 women, 91 girls and 130 boys were mur­dered be­tween April 2017 and March 2018 in KwaZulu-Natal.

The to­tal num­ber of mur­ders recorded for the same time pe­riod is a stag­ger­ing 4 382. This is fol­lowed by Gaut­eng with 4 233 and the East­ern Cape with 3 815 for the same time pe­riod. These shock­ing crime statistics were re­vealed by Po­lice Min­is­ter Bheki Cele in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day.

Statistics re­vealed 20 336 mur­ders na­tion­ally. This means on av­er­age, 56 people are killed in South Africa each day.

Nyanga po­lice sta­tion in West­ern Cape re­ported the high­est num­ber of mur­der cases, while uMlazi po­lice sta­tion in KwaZulu-Natal came in a close sec­ond with 223 mur­ders.

Other KwaZulu-Natal po­lice sta­tions that fea­tured among the top 30 with the high­est num­ber of mur­der cases in­cluded Inanda, KwaMashu, Plessis­laer, Mar­i­annhill and Mpumalanga.

Trio crimes which include car­jack­ings, res­i­den­tial rob­beries and busi­ness rob­beries have recorded a de­crease.

How­ever, al­most 10 000 cases re­lat­ing to trio crimes were re­ported in the prov­ince, leav­ing KwaZulu-Natal as the sec­ond most dan­ger­ous prov­ince af­ter Gaut­eng.

More than 7 200 cases of rape were re­ported in KwaZulu-Natal. Al­though Inanda and uMlazi po­lice sta­tions re­ported a de­crease in the num­ber of rape cases from the pre­vi­ous year, they still ranked num­ber one in the coun­try in the cur­rent pe­riod.

Inanda had 278 rape cases and uMlazi 252.

Sex­ual of­fence crimes in­creased over­all by 3.2% from the pre­vi­ous year to 8 759 cases in the cur­rent pe­riod.

Over­all, 207 more rapes were re­ported than the pre­vi­ous year, with a to­tal of 40 035 rapes re­ported in the coun­try. KwaZulu-Natal also ranked num­ber one in the coun­try with the high­est num­ber of rob­beries at food out­lets. A vis­i­bly up­set Cele said the dis­mal crime statistics, in­clud­ing the high mur­der rate, had forced him to put the SAPS man­age­ment’s “head on the block”.

“This sit­u­a­tion must be ar­rested with the swift­ness it de­serves and it must be re­versed with light­ning speed,” Cele said.

“The worst thing we can do, which can­not be done in my ten­ure in this of­fice, is to come and give the same crime stats next year or worse to what we’ve cur­rently have.”

Cele said the mur­der fig­ure was akin to that of a “war zone”.

“The SAPS will de­clare up­front that some­where, some­how we dropped the ball,” he said.

He said the fo­cus now should not be on cast­ing blame for the in­crease in mur­ders but on how they could “col­lec­tively pick up the ball”.

He ad­mit­ted he was the “car­rier of bad news and de­press­ing sto­ries that should not be heard”.

Cele said while there had been suc­cess in bring­ing some crimes down, the high mur­der rate meant South Africans would con­tinue to feel un­safe.

“It doesn’t mat­ter what fig­ures you put out. If you can’t con­trol the mur­der cases we are not bring­ing joy to the South African people,” Cele said.

Gareth Ne­wham, an an­a­lyst with the In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies, said the mur­der in­crease was the big­gest since the be­gin­ning of democ­racy and was a re­li­able in­di­ca­tor of the state of vi­o­lence in the coun­try.

“The vi­o­lence against women and chil­dren has in­creased and if this is not ad­dressed ur­gently then we will experience this for a long time.

Chil­dren who grow up around vi­o­lence are four times more likely to pos­sess vi­o­lent be­hav­iour in their adult­hood,” he said.

Ne­wham said po­lice alone would not be able to solve the prob­lem and en­cour­aged so­cial work­ers, teach­ers and NGOs to unite in the fight against crime.

While the statistics painted a bleak pic­ture, Ne­wham com­mended Cele and his team who pre­sented the statistics to Par­lia­ment, say­ing “there is hope”. “We were en­cour­aged by the way the statistics were re­leased. There was no blame game and no one tried to ma­nip­u­late the statistics like in pre­vi­ous years.

“They showed the po­lice’s will­ing­ness to think dif­fer­ently and open­ness to work to­gether with com­mu­ni­ties. They straight away spoke about the mur­der rate and ad­mit­ted it was a prob­lem,” Ne­wham said.

KwaZulu-Natal Com­mu­nity Safety MEC Mx­olisi Kaunda vowed to strengthen the part­ner­ship be­tween the po­lice and the com­mu­nity to en­sure that crime was re­duced dras­ti­cally in the prov­ince.

Provin­cial po­lice com­mis­sioner Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Nh­lanhla Mkhwanazi said the big­gest chal­lenge was the high mur­der rate in the prov­ince.

“Most of the mur­ders are com­mit­ted in the vicin­ity of liquor out­lets and tav­erns and we will be fo­cus­ing more on the en­force­ment of the Liquor Act at these places.” He said there would also be fo­cused op­er­a­tions tar­geted at seiz­ing dan­ger­ous weapons.

PO­LICE Min­is­ter Bheki Cele had it right from the out­set yes­ter­day, as he ad­dressed MPs in Par­lia­ment: the 2017/18 crime statistics were no source of joy. He went fur­ther: 57 mur­ders a day bor­dered on a war zone.

There was no sugar-coat­ing our crime statistics, Cele knew that. Law-abid­ing cit­i­zens feel threat­ened, no mat­ter the statistics or any down­ward ar­rows. People will not be com­forted un­til they sense a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in the con­stant, ubiq­ui­tous men­ace of crime.

Re­ported crimes may be down by 76 163 from the pre­vi­ous year, but there were still 1 662 815 in 2017/18 (4 555 a day). This re­mains alarm­ing.

In 2017/18, 20 336 people were mur­dered – 1 320 (6.9%) more than the pre­vi­ous year. This was the high­est an­nual mur­der toll in the last decade. KwaZulu-Natal took the un­de­sir­able provin­cial ti­tle of most mur­ders: 4 382, 368 more than the pre­vi­ous year.

Then there were sex­ual of­fences: 50 108, or an av­er­age of 137 daily. In KZN, it was 8 759. Rape was dom­i­nant in this cat­e­gory, a source of im­mense shame to our coun­try.

Power to Cele’s hand, then, in di­rect­ing and en­er­gis­ing po­lice to re-es­tab­lish re­spect for the law and those who en­force it.

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