Crime statistics – ‘It’s not safe here’

2012-09-22 15:34

Only 12.7% of murders in SA’s crime hot spots end in convictions

Nyanga in Cape Town is the most dangerous place to be a South African, according to the most recent crime statistics.

As the murder rate dropped by more than 3% countrywide, 35 more people died in Nyanga in the past financial year than the year before.

And it’s not only murder – sex crimes, aggravated assaults, drug crimes and armed robberies have  significantly increased too.

House robberies and car hijackings have doubled.

“God is probably punishing us. It’s been going on for long now,” said a woman resident.

She did not want her name published because “someone could attack me”.

“I’m afraid it will come back to me if I say something. It’s not safe around here.

“There are gangs and criminals in our community. Some of them are still in primary school. They stab people if they want a cellphone.”

Masamdiswe Mpiliswano, a second-year accounting student, said she routinely heard about murders, robberies and break-ins in the township in which she was born.

“I was once robbed outside the (Nyanga) police station. These guys stole my phone and earrings.

“I went into the police station and the police looked around to find the guys. They couldn’t find them,” said Mpiliswano.

“Crime has got worse. There are far more gangsters here now. They don’t work and they rob people. I feel scared when I hear about all these things,” Mpiliswano admitted.

She conceded that “the police are trying to do their job” but advised they needed to “drive around (on patrol) all the time, not only at night”.

“They can do a better job. People go to the police station to report crimes but some are tired of waiting.

“That’s why they beat criminals,” she said, referring to the vigilantism which has overrun Cape Flats townships such as Khayelitsha.

Her aunt, Pulane Mpiliswano, who sells meat at a pavement braai spot, said she had seen plenty of  robberies at the four-way stop where her business is located.

“They rob you. It happens right here next to the road,” she said.

Theo Sir, who works for a courier company, said Nyanga residents are ready to “take the law into our own hands”.

“The residents beat gangsters, especially the young ones, when they commit a crime.

“They first let him (a young potential criminal) commit a crime. Then they call a group of people together. Then they go straight to where the criminal stays to teach him a lesson,” Sir confirmed.

“It’s not a good thing to beat the criminals but the police don’t do their job properly.”

Township locals complain about crime at every turn.

Pumzile Nqabelele, a technician with the SA Navy, said “most people in Nyanga are unemployed, which might contribute to crime.

“We know most of the criminals. But people are scared to report them to the police because it’s a risk, pointing fingers.

“People don’t want to go to the police station to report a criminal because they have done that before, only to find that three days later the alleged criminal will be back again,” said Nqabelele.

Premier Helen Zille, meanwhile, issued a statement on Tuesday, two days before the crime statistics were released.

She said the police service, in response to “ongoing gang violence and murders, has to date been inadequate” in the province.

She said “84% of murder and attempted murder cases originating from five gang hotspots in the Western Cape end in acquittals.”

“There is an average of only 12.7% of murder cases ending in a conviction over a five-year period for the areas of Hanover Park, Lavender Hill, Elsies River, Manenberg and Bishop Lavis.”

Zille said she has battled with President Jacob Zuma to “provide peacekeeping and visibility patrols (from the SA National Defence Force’s ranks) to relieve the police and enable them to undertake their investigative work” in the Western Cape, but Zuma had dismissed her request.

“The Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town are doing everything within our limited powers, and more, to address the high instances of violent crime, including gang violence in the province,” said Zille.

Crime by numbers

Most crimes in Nyanga increased from April 1, 2011 to March 31 this year, compared to the same period the previous year.

» Murder up from 198 to 233
» Sexual crimes up from 368 to 398
» Attempted murder up from 142 to 163
» Assault with intention to inflict grievous bodily harm up from 990 to 1 046
» Robbery with aggravating circumstances up from 623 to 879
» Residential burglaries up from 484 to 570
» Vehicle theft up from 114 to 134
» Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition from up 149 to 168
» Drug-related crime up from 1436 to 1881
» Carjacking up from 44 to 81
» Robbery at residential property up from 50 to 99
» Kidnapping up from 16 to 28

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