Murder rate shoots up

2016-09-13 06:00

An increase in violent crime in the Ocean View precinct is a direct result of increasing gang activity, says local police – this as murder in the precinct has reached a 10-year high.

In the 2015/2016 national crime statistics, released on Friday 2 September, the Ocean View precinct recorded an increase in sexual assault cases (by 27.5% to a total of 51 cases) and common assault (increased from 106 cases in the previous year to 153).

Reported murders within the precinct increased to 41 cases from 26 in the previous year. This is a 58% increase year on year and the highest number recorded in the last 10 years.

The increase in murders has been attributed to gang violence, which has soared over the past two years, says Ocean View station commander Lieutenant-Colonel Errol Merkeur.

Ocean View Community Policing Forum chairperson Kathy Cronje says the increase can be linked to gangsterism and drug abuse, with protests in Masiphumelele last year adding to the high number.

“Even the murders in Masi were linked to the protests to get rid of drug lords,” she explains.

The murder rate is usually a “very accurate” marker for violent crime in a community, as it can’t be underreported, Cronje explains.

“You can’t hide murders. All other crimes, like sexual offences and assault, seem low due to a lack of reporting,” says Cronje.

This stems from a mistrust of the police, she believes.

However, police are already working toward reducing the number of murders, says Merkeur.

“The community relationships have improved, neighbourhood watches were established, more community meetings have been held and a well-established Crime Prevention Unit is now operating,” he says.

“At this point murder numbers have already begun decreasing. Partnership policing in the area – by means of neighbourhood watches and visible policing – is currently the tool that helps with effective policing on murders.”

However, Cronje cautions that violent crimes need to be addressed at their root cause.

“We need to stop gangsterism. That means tackling the economic side – many members of the community have no money and are unemployed, which drives them to gangsterism. The total despair also leads to many turning to drugs,” she says.

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