No cars stolen in SA, really?

2015-09-30 12:00
<b>CRIME DOESN'T PAY:</b> Six people were arrested in Gauteng for possesion of stolen vehicles. Police and a tracker team helped tracked down the car-theft unit.

CRIME DOESN'T PAY: Six people were arrested in Gauteng for possesion of stolen vehicles. Police and a tracker team helped tracked down the car-theft unit.

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Pietermaritzburg - You are more likely to be murdered in Pietermaritzburg’s CBD than in any of the main police precincts in the city and surrounds.

According to the SAPS Crime ­Statistics from April 2104 to March 2015, which were released in Parliament on Tuesday, 18 ­people out of every 10 000 living in the CBD are likely to be murdered.

This more than triple any other area studied by The Witness, which included Howick, Mountain Rise, Plessislaer, Ladysmith and ­New­castle.

The information also showed that Pietermaritzburg’s home owners have become the targets of burglaries spread across various areas, with ­increasing numbers of cases being reported at almost every police ­precinct since the previous reporting year.

Residents of the Alexandra Road police precinct reportedly suffered 670 home burglaries, an increase of 104 cases over last year.

In the Howick and Townhill areas, 326 and 221 cases of residential ­burglaries were reported ­respectively, with Mountain Rise reporting 533, a 12,9% increase; and Plessislaer 1 136, — a one percent decline from the previous year, but both Mountain Rise and Plessislaer report high rates of residential burglaries.

One of the most affected areas was Prestbury, which suffered a 106,2% increase in residential burglaries amounting to 86 extra cases being reported.

Pietermaritzburg Safe City ­manager Lucas Holtzhausen said contact crimes, excluding common robbery and robbery with ­aggravating circumstances, stem from the abuse of liquor.

According to Holtzhausen, several cases of assault with the intent to ­inflict grievous bodily harm were ­reported near liquor outlets in the city centre.

He said Safe City detected 10 of the 343 reported business burglaries in the Pietermaritzburg policing ­area, which encompasses the CBD.

“Suspects are now mostly ­entering business premises through the roof, because they know that they will be detected [while entering from the ground],” Holtzhausen said.

However, question marks have been raised over the legitimacy of the statistics.

The Witness, through ­cross-checking the data from the SAPS statistics release of 2013/2014, and speaking to experts, uncovered several anomalies.

uMgungundlovu cluster ­commanders Brigadier Francis ­Bantham and Major-General Lucas Ngobeni referred The Witness’s questions on the statistics to the ­police’s provincial communication team, who declined to comment ­before the statistics were released to the Provincial Legislature.

Professor Robert Peacock, a ­criminologist from the University of the Free State, said while South ­Africans were not “fixated on crime”, a lack of leadership in dealing with the problem had not eased the ­public’s concerns.

“It is an indictment against our leaders that crime is not taken more seriously and dealt with in a ­proactive manner,” said Peacock.

SEVERAL errors appear to exist in the latest release of police statistics, and experts believe this casts doubt over the information released.

This is the third consecutive year in which errors have been found.

A desktop investigation by The Witness found that the errors appeared to be in the statistics at precinct level.

Most notably, it showed that no ­vehicles were stolen in certain areas.

While The Witness could not check every station in the country, a random check including Pietermaritzburg ­precincts such as central in Loop Street, Mountain Rise, Alexandra Road, and Durban Central showed not a single car was stolen between April 2014 and March 2015.

The check also revealed that there were no car-jackings, commercial crime incidents, shoplifting or stock theft in certain previous reporting years.

Institute for Security Studies analyst Gareth Newham called the errors ­“worrying”. He said they had uncovered several issues with the data shortly ­after it was released.

“This raises questions about what is going on in the national leadership. These types of errors won’t help them build credibility,”

Newham said ISS researchers could not fully unpack the statistics due to the anomalies.

“We have asked the SAPS for clarification. This is concerning as they had six months to get this data prepared, yet in one morning a handful of journalists and our researchers find errors.”

But national police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the problem should be rectified by today, maintaining that the “glitch” should not detract from the credibility of the statistics.

“I spoke to statisticians who said what we have experienced now is the same problem we had last year. It is definitely a technical glitch. We have been inundated with calls from different provinces. The official document was authenticated by StatsSA, so this has nothing to do with credibility,” he said.

Naidoo added that StatsSA is expected to take over the collation of the statistics within the next two years.

In 2012/13 the SAPS used old ­population figures to calculate crime ­ratios, which incorrectly showed crime reductions. In 2013/14 there were ­massive errors in KZN and Limpopo.

In KZN, stock theft was reported in areas where there were no cattle, while sexual crimes skyrocketed by 1 200% in some areas

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime stats  |  crime

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