Diplomatic welcome for rosy crime stats

2010-09-10 08:43

Various political parties and the banking industry have cautiously welcomed the latest statistics showing a decrease in most categories of crime in the country.

According to the statistics 2.1 million crimes were reported in the 2009/2010 period.

Referring to the alleged decrease in crime, the Democratic Alliance said South Africans “must leave room to be cautiously optimistic”, adding that there could be an even greater improvement in statistics next year because of the special measures the SA Police Service (SAPS) had put in place during the Soccer World Cup tournament.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa yesterday claimed the murder rate had decreased by a significant 8.6% and was below the 18 000 mark for the first time this decade.

Attempted murder reduced by 6.1% and robberies with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and sexual offences were also down, he said.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) commended the police but said more still needed to be done.

IFP spokesperson on police Velaphi Ndlovu said: “The IFP believes that special commendation must go to the SAPS for the significant decrease in South Africa’s murder rate” but added that South Africa should not forget the country was still ranked as one with the highest crime rates.

The ANC said more needed to be done to decrease certain categories of crime that had shown an increase.

“These areas include, amongst others, the increase in burglary at residential premises, the increase in robbery at non-residential premises, the increase in commercial crime and the increase in stock theft,” spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said.

“We, however, have noted the hard work that the police have devoted to the fight against crime,” he said.
The banking industry welcomed the reported drop in cash-in-transit heists and bank robberies.

According to the statistics the number of cash-in-transit heists dropped by 7.3% for the year ending March 31 this year as compared to 2008/2009.

During that period 358 heists took place as compared to 386 heists during the corresponding period ending March last year.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the continued efforts by the police to strengthen their partnerships with business and other sectors in the fight against crime will yield desired results,” said South African Banking Risk Information Centre chief executive Kalyani Pillay.

The bombing of ATMs and follow-home cash robberies still remained a concern to the banking industry, she said.

Political parties also raised concerns at what seemed to be a steady increase in burglaries at homes and business premises.

Statistics show a 1.9% increase in home robberies. This means 18 786 reported cases as compared to 18 438 cases in the year ended March last year. Six years ago there were 9 351 cases in home robberies.

“It is extremely worrying as people are supposed to be safe in their own homes,” said Freedom Front Plus spokesperson Pieter Groenewald. “These statistics prove that they have reason to feel unsafe.

“If it is taken into account that in the past seven years more than 5.56 million people in South Africa have been victims of violent crimes South Africa is still an unsafe and violent country,” he said.

Meanwhile, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said a certain amount of scepticism about the accuracy of the statistics would prevail because of government’s refusal to release crime statistics on a more regular and timely basis.

He said the latest statistics were already six months old and that the country could only celebrate when there had been several years of steady improvements and fewer South Africans were victims of crime.

The Christian Democratic Party also questioned the accuracy of some of the statistics after cautiously welcoming the reported decrease in crime.

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