Parties: Crime stats concerning
Cape Town - The 2008/09 crime statistics were cause for serious concern, opposition parties said on Tuesday.
The latest statistics showed a drop in the murder rate, but a rise in the number of business and house robberies.
Democratic Alliance police spokesperson Dianne Kohler-Barnard said it was now clear why Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa had reneged on his predecessor's pledge to release crime statistics twice annually.
The statistics revealed a serious deterioration of the crime outlook, with significant increases in key areas including sexual offences, robberies, business and commercial crime, vehicle hijackings and stock theft.
"Clearly these are numbers that the ANC would not have risked releasing publicly in the run up to a national election," she said.
The ruling party also responded to the release of the statistics, saying that it reflected the urgency to push for changes on Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, which would give police more powers.
"[This] will give police wider powers to shoot at dangerous criminals, strengthening speciality units and improving the way police stations respond to distress calls," Sokutu said.
Champion of the poor
The 10% rise in sexual offences highlighted just how devastating the ANC's decision to disband the family violence, sexual offences and child protection units was, Kohler-Barnard said.
Inkatha Freedom Party police spokesperson Velaphi Ndlovu said the statistics showed that the poor and the vulnerable needed a strong champion.
South Africans were being driven further and further apart, afraid even to look each other in the eye, for fear of crime.
"The numbers before us are more than indicators of failure; they are the evidence of a malaise that South Africa must not be allowed to succumb to," he said.
Violence levels 'still too high'
Independent Democrats spokesperson Joe Mcgluwa said that while the ID welcomed the 3.4% decrease in murder and the decrease in five of the seven contact crime categories, there were still "frightening" increases in other forms of violent crime.
"The ID is still of the view that we continue to live in a society that has unacceptably high levels of violence and we cannot afford to allow this to become the norm.
"Until we deal convincingly with the massive inequalities and the crisis within the social fabric of our society, crime will remain a huge problem."
The Freedom Front Plus's Pieter Groenewald said the latest figures meant robberies at residential properties had in the past three years increased by 54.2%.
"This type of crime is threatening the lives of the public and they are not safe in their own homes," he said.
50 people murdered daily
Figures showing that murder, attempted murder and ordinary robberies had decreased could create a "false peace" in the country.
"In South Africa, 50 people are still being murdered every day and murder is still nearly eight times higher than the world average," he said.
United Democratic Movement chief whip Stanley Ntapane said that no matter how government spun the statistics, it was undeniable that South Africa suffered from a shockingly high rate of crime, far worse than most other countries in the world.
"There are war zones with lower rates of killing," he said.
"For more than a decade the ANC government has systematically failed to address this horrific situation."
Working with govt
Chief executive of Business Against Crime (BAC) Graham Wright said at a "holistic level" his organisation remained deeply concerned at the high level of crime and violence in the country.
"This reinforces our resolve as a business community to work closely with government to root out criminal elements and reduce the opportunities for crime in the business sector," he said.
He said BAC was particularly concerned at the increases in business and residential robberies, and vehicle and truck hijackings.
"However, we are encouraged that the minister has identified direct measures to address these crimes as a priority," he said.