Social ills lead to violent society – crime expert

By Drum Digital
05 September 2016

South African police have made significant strides in efforts to reduce all categories of serious crimes, except contact crimes, Acting Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane said on Friday.

By Aphiwe Boyce

The annual crime statistics show that contact crimes have gone up 1 %. These crimes include murder, attempted murder, common assault, sexual offences, assault with grievous bodily harm and common robbery. The stats also show that more than 51 000 sexual offence cases, which include rape and sexual assault, were reported in the 2015/16 financial year. Meanwhile, the murder rate has increased 4,9 %, but reported serious crime decreased 1,4 % compared to 2014/15. A 10-year comparison depicts a 9 % decrease.

Gareth Newham, the Institute for Security Studies’ Head of Governance: Crime and Justice Division, attributed the increase of contact crimes to social ills that ravages the country.

“Our children are neglected and exposed to violence at a very young age. Research shows that children who grew up in violent communities are more likely to be violent than those who were not. The Government needs to introduce pilot programmes where children won’t be exposed to violence. That can heal our broken societies,” Newham added.

He said police needed to put more focus and resources into contact crimes instead of stretching all their resources in trying to police the 50 million+ population.

“If these crimes continue to rise, more people get killed and raped; it means our public safety is compromised,” Newham said. He added that behind the increase of these crimes was criminals’ tendency to use violence when they steal.

“The police cannot do this alone, parents, teachers, communities need to work closely with police in trying to curb this trend. Children are exposed to violence at home, at schools and in society, and police cannot do much about that, the problem also needs the community action,” he said.

Newham also stated that abuse of alcohol, scramble for resources among the poor, child abuse and negligence can also contribute to the increase in contact crimes.

“Government needs to fix social factors such as our education system and growing economy.”

Meanwhile, SAPS’ Head of Crime Research and Statistics, Major General Norman Sekhukhune, said the overall analysis depicted notable progress in reducing community-reported crimes.

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