Murders down, robberies up
Cape Town - The number of murders committed in South Africa has continued to drop, but house robberies have increased by more than a quarter, according to Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
Releasing the police's crime statistics for the 2008/9 financial year, he also said police were concerned at a 41.5% hike in the number of business robberies, mostly targeting small businesses.
Cash-in-transit robberies declined by 2.3% during the period, which ended on March 31 this year.
"This, we agree, is not much decrease compared to the same period last year. It is a decrease nevertheless," he told a media briefing at Parliament on Tuesday.
Bank robberies dropped by 29.2%, and ATM attacks by 10%, while figures since January this year would seem to indicate that the ATM statistic was dropping even further.
House robberies 'intrusive'
Mthethwa said the police were concerned at the 27% increase in house robberies.
"It is one of the crimes that are the most intrusive and personalised," he said.
"We simply cannot tolerate a situation where people do not feel safe in their homes."
House robberies affected people from all walks of life, and were not restricted to wealthy areas.
The police recognised that they needed to do more, and had begun an audit of how they deployed their human and material resources, and the timing of that deployment.
"Equally, we realise that we need greater engagement with affected communities," he said.
"Communities must ensure that those who represent them on the community policing forums are an equal partner with the police in establishing the programme of action in addressing the needs and to monitor the implementation thereof.
"This engagement will assist us in refining our approach to dealing with house robberies," Mthethwa said.
Murder rates declining
He said murder and attempted murder had been steadily declining over the past couple of years, and the police were pleased that they continued to do so.
During the year under review murder dropped by 3.4% and attempted murder by 4.3%.
Common assault was 4.3% down, and assault with intention to commit grievous bodily harm down by 4.7%.
However, the 2.7% increase in stock theft was a matter of serious concern, as it impacted negatively on people in rural communities.
Sexual offences increased by 10.1%. Part of this could be accounted for by changes in legislation, which had introduced new categories of crime. But it was still "not good".
Mthethwa said the release of the statistics was not merely to quantify crime or create a debate in society.
Call to action
"We believe that this is a call to action for government, business, NGOs and communities," he said.
"As you will observe, in the various breakdowns of crime trends over the past fiscal year, there are areas where we are making progress. At the same time there are those where we are still lagging behind.
"Nevertheless, the ANC government remains unmoved in its commitment to securing a better life for all, and the fight against crime is an integral part of ensuring this better life."
He said contact crime currently accounted for 32.7% of all crime.
It was this form of crime that was generally associated with violence.
The police were therefore encouraged by the decrease in five of the seven contact crime categories.