Beware middle class influence on police priorities, warns CSVR

2009-09-24 10:33

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) has

warned that society needs to be wary of the middle class dictating which crimes

are prioritised by the police.

In a statement released in response to the crime statistics

released by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa this week the CSVR said it was

concerned at the tendency to focus on residential robberies, business robberies

and car and truck hijackings because they affected the middle class, while

street robberies, which affected poor people, were given less attention.

“The impact of violence on poorer South African communities is not

well understood or integrated into how crime priorities are conceived,” the CSVR

statement says.

The CSVR also called for armed violence and sexual violence to be

made higher priority concerns for the police.

“We believe that the core problem which should be the focus of

government attention should be the problem of armed violence incorporating all

violent crimes committed with guns and knives,” it said.

Business Against Crime South Africa (BACSA) chief executive Dr

Graham Wright said the crime statistics were “a mixed bag of results, where

reductions in reported crime in some categories are dampened by significant

increases in other categories”.

In a press release on the BACSA website, Wright said business

robberies recorded the highest increase of 41,5%, with small business being most


He reiterated the business community’s commitment to working with

government to reduce opportunities for crime in the business sector and said the

business community was deeply concerned at the high level of crime and violence


“The increase in robbery with aggravating circumstances remains of

particular concern and especially the increases in crimes such as business

robberies, residential robberies and vehicle and truck hijackings because these

crimes are problematic for the business community and citizens and consequently

remain a high priority for both business and government,” he said.

Human Rights Commission (HRC) senior crime and human rights

researcher Danzel van Zyl said the crime statistics needed to be jointly

released with results from the Department of Justice.

Van Zyl said it was necessary to know how many arrests had been

effected and how many successful prosecutions there had been

“We need accurate information to know if we are making any progress

in dealing with crime in South Africa,” he said.

He said the under-reporting of crime was also a concern as “a large

percentage of South Africans” had no faith in the police.

“People face secondary victimisation from going to the police and

therefore don’t even bother reporting assaults,” he said.

He said the crime statistics should “be taken with a pinch of salt”

as they gave a false impression that violence in society was decreasing. – West

Cape News

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