Crime stats show over two million serious cases a year

2009-09-23 07:25

The much anticipated 2008/2009 national crime statistics were

eventually released by Police minister Nathi Mthethwa,

although the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) is still investigation

allegations that some police stations have manipulated their statistics in their

favour.

The statistics released by Mthethwa, who was flanked by national

police commissioner Bheki Cele at the Imbizo Centre inside the parliamentary

precinct prior to addressing the National Assembly, showed that over two million

(2,098,229) cased of serious crime had been reported in South Africa between 1

April 2008 and 31 March 2009 – an increase of 0.2%.

Releasing the figures six months since the close of the reporting

period, Mthethwa said violent crime, or “contact crime” as it is officially

labeled, accounts for 32.7% of all reported crime.

However, despite comprising a third of all reported crime, he said

there has been a decrease in five of the seven types of ‘contact crimes’.

These were: murder (down by 3.4%); attempted murder (down by 4.3%);

common robbery (down by 10.4%); common assault (4.3%); and assault with intent

to do grievous bodily harm (4.7%).

But robbery with aggravated circumstance had increased by 0.8%, and

sexual offenses by an alarming 10.1%.

Mthethwa said while there was an overall increase in sexual

offences, there was a “slight decline” in crimes against women and children, but

its prevalence worked against national efforts to “create a caring and human

society.

He said the decision to close down special units that focused on

some of the crimes relating to sexual offences has been “reversed”.

“The SAPS is now auditing available capacity with a view to

strengthening these units,” he said.

Better news was that the murder ratio had decreased from last

years’ 38.6 people out of a 1,000 murdered, to 37.3. The most common cause of

death was from stabbings (54%) and the cause of over half of all murders is

listed as a result of misunderstandings and arguments.

Taken over the long term since 1994, this showed a decrease of

44.5% from a high of 67.9 murders per 1,000 people in 1995/1996.

He said the increase in robbery with aggravating circumstances had

come from robberies at businesses and homes, and hijackings.

Of these three, the highest increase came from business robberies,

which showed an increase of 41.5%, with the small business sector being most

affected, having being the target in almost two thirds of business

robberies.

This needed to be “addressed vigorously”, he said as “it could

perpetuate one of the apartheid fault-lines”.

He said short and long term measures needed to urgently be

implemented, in consultation with all affected parties, and the police had “over

the last few months” been “engaging the business community to assess how we can

better work together to reduce these robberies”.

On a more positive note, cash-in-transit robberies had declined by

2,3% , but the hijacking of trucks had increased by 15.4%, and carjacking by

5%.

He said trans-national crime contributed significantly to these

figures, and most vehicles were hijacked in Gauteng which was relatively close

to a number of borders.

He said there were many recovered cars and trucks in police car

pounds near the border points of entry and “citizens should do more to claim

these vehicles before they are crushed”.

He was “deeply concerned” about a 27,3 % increase in house

robberies, as well as a 2.7% increase in stock theft, as it impacted on the

lives of people in rural communities.

Another further area of concern was commercial (white collar) crime

which had increased by 16% - possibly as a result of the economic

recession.

Various measures being put in place to combat crime were: a focus

on intelligence gathering; amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act which would

strengthen the hand of the police; revamping the Criminal Justice System to

ensure better integration between departments; partnering with community in the

fight against crime; and better management of our borders, to which Cabinet has

agreed to re-engage the SANDF, at least until 2010.

Cele said the problems in rural areas, where it took police up to

90 minutes to reach the scene of a crime would be addressed.

Cele there was nothing in the latest statistics to “be happy about”

as it showed that people were getting murdered and subject to armed robbery in

their own homes.

“However, we can’t cry and fold our arms but instead need to do

more (to fight crime),” he said. – West Cape News


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