Gauteng bathed in violence

2015-04-19 15:00

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There is more bad news on the cards for people who live in Gauteng – like the price of petrol and food, violent crime is also increasing.

Crime figures leaked to Beeld show that for the first 10 months of 2014/15 (April to January), murder increased by more than 10% compared with the same period in 2013/14, carjackings were up 14.38% and house robberies increased by 11.54%.

Overall, contact crime (used to describe rape, murder, common and aggravated assault, common robbery, etc) was up from 134?410 recorded incidents to 140?253, an increase of 4.3%.

This is the second consecutive year crime has increased in the province.

Experts and insiders blame a lack of leadership as well as infighting between the Hawks, police and the National Prosecuting Authority for the spike.

Property-related crimes (including burglary and vehicle theft) were up slightly from 128?597 to 130?628. House burglary, however, had dropped 2.1% from 56?603 to 55?415, according to the statistics.

But carjackings were a real cause for concern, with 5?638 hijackings reported, up from 4?929 in 2013/14. Truck hijackings jumped by a whopping 55%, from 446 to 689, the latest figures show.

One police success story, however, was cash-in-transit heists, which had almost been halved (from 51 to 28), while bank robberies were unchanged at eight for the period.

House robbery was, however, up from 5?994 to 6?686, an increase of 11.5%. Business robbery increased by 6.4%, from 4?846 to 5?154.

The latest figures come against a backdrop of assurances by police commissioner General Riah Phiyega that crime is “under control”.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale told Beeld the figures were unaudited. He added that violent and contact crimes were “stubborn”.

Gareth Newham, head of the governance, crime and justice division at the Institute for Security Studies, told Beeld the increase was worrying. He blamed incompetent leadership, coupled with a lack of crime intelligence, for the spike.

Newham attributed the rise in murders to an increase in organised crime, including armed robbery. He also questioned the apparent fall in rape statistics.

Newham said honest and effective leadership would lead to an improvement in the situation.

A senior Hawks officer also attributed the increase to an upsurge of organised crime in Gauteng.

“Intelligence reports done by private security companies also depict a red alert. Unfortunately, senior commanders who should be leading from the front are busy fighting each other to get senior positions,” said the Hawks officer.

He said all indications were that serious economic and contact crimes and hijackings had increased significantly.

Another source, also in the Hawks, said there had been a misdirection of resources.

“Those who are well resourced and skilled in intelligence and investigations are used to dig up dirt [on people in positions of power] in the battle for control of the Hawks, crime intelligence and the SA Police Service,” he said.

A senior crime intelligence officer said there had been an increase in mistrust in the intelligence community.

“Some informers have taken a step back. There has also been a cut in paying informers, and more questions are now being asked before payments can be made,” he said.

The senior crime intelligence officer with a wide network of informers said some informers were afraid that their identity could be exposed during the infighting.

– Additional reporting by Abram Mashego

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