Crime busters

2011-09-09 00:00

THE crime rate has dropped significantly in the Pietermaritzburg policing cluster, according to the crime statistics released by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa yesterday. The trend is in line with the national situation.

The local decline was confirmed by Lucas Holtzhausen, Safe City general manager and Business Fighting Crime committee member, who said a downward trend in crime has been observed in the city in the past few years.

“We work closely with the SA Police Service and from the CCTV cameras have noticed a decline in crime, especially contact crime. Robbery incidents captured on the CCTV cameras have also decreased.”

Holtzhausen is pleased that Pietermaritzburg police station had a permanent commander, in the form of Brigadier Johan Reynders. “He is really getting things together there.”

He said it is a problem that people are not reporting crimes.

Koos Marais of KZN Agricultural Union security desk said he is delighted that a downward trend in crime has been reported. “We are concerned about the very high rate of livestock, copper and metal theft. Fruit plantations are also targeted …

“We would like the police and the justice system to address these issues, not leaving out the violent nature of farm attacks,” said Marais.

There has been an increase in murders reported in four of the six major police stations around Pietermaritzburg from the 2009/2010 financial year to date, but the incidence has decreased in two areas.

Mountain Rise and Hilton stations have an increased record of sexual offences, including rape. Sexual offences include the rape of men and possession of child pornography.

House robberies have also decreased with only Mountain Rise and Taylors Halt having seen an increase in this crime.

Statistics show that carjacking increased slightly in Mountain Rise, Hilton and Town Hill. While most of the serious crimes have declined, an increased in house burglary has been registered at Town Hill, Alexandra Road and Mountain Rise police stations.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union hailed the decrease in crime, saying it is police visibility on the streets that has helped reduce public and street robbery by almost 10,2 %, and carjacking by 23,6 % country wide.

Unemployment and lawlessness are the contributing factors in the increase in crime, said Inkatha Freedom Party’s spokesperson for safety and security, Blessed Gwala. “As much as the police are trying their utmost best to combat crime, the emphasis must be on job creation to keep people busy.

“The laws of the country are also weak in that criminals who cannot afford a legal representative are provided one at the expense of the taxpayer,” said Gwala.

The Democratic Alliance provincial spokesperson on community safety and liaison, Sizwe Mchunu, said that while his party welcomes any decline in crime levels, the fact that the country’s murder rate has reached a record low of 16 000 since the inception of the SA Police Service is no cause for celebration.

“While the murder rate has dropped slightly in our province, these figures must be viewed in context. These statistics are for the period including the Soccer World Cup — a time when unprecedented sums of money were pumped into law enforcement in a bid to ensure that South Africa was on its best behaviour. The challenge now is for our country — and indeed our province’s law enforcement agencies — to maintain this level of policing and to further reduce crime levels.”

chris.ndaliso@witness.co.za

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