Editorial: Time to appoint a career police official

2016-09-04 01:11
Nathi Nhleko

Nathi Nhleko

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SA'S CRIME STATS: Reasons for the rape statistic decline

2016-09-02 16:46

Acting Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane suggests why reported rape figures have decreased from last year.WATCH

The release of South Africa’s crime statistics is often met with hysteria.

Little wonder, when the murder graph continues pointing upward.

Murder is a pivotal indicator of crime trends, and the 4.9% increase in the murder rate for 2015/16 that emerged from the stats released on Friday is sobering.

Yet crime statistics provide an important reality check for South Africans.

They remind us that whatever freedoms we may be enjoying, we still live under the tyranny of thieves, rapists and murderers.

They remind us that we are not quite free and we need to do something about it.

Publishing crime figures also enables us to study crime patterns, and conduct a plan of action in accordance with such findings.

At least, that is what we hope happens.

The police should be using this information to plan how to combat murder, robbery and common assault – all of which increased, according to the latest figures – and allocate resources accordingly.

The release of such statistics should never be a show for politicians to try to spin an ugly reality.

The problem arises when their release becomes an annual ritual meant to comply with requirements of transparency, rather than galvanise the police to take swift, effective action.

Simply publishing figures defeats the purpose, as we are likely to see a repeat of trends when figures are announced the following year.

This has been the case over the past few years, when crime became steadily worse under the leadership of former national police commissioner Riah Phiyega, who is now suspended.

A lesson to take from her term in office is that appointing civilians to this crucial post does not work.

The president needs to appoint an experienced police officer from within the ranks, or we will be in the same place next year, bemoaning the worrying crime trends.

Read more on:    riah phiyega  |  nathi nhleko  |  crime statistics

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