Alarm as conviction rate falls

2014-11-10 00:00

HUNDREDS of arrests made by a task team in Durban have been undercut by a damning report indicating that dangerous criminals may soon be back on the street.

The South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) report on Law and (dis)order highlighted the falling rate of convictions — just as police top brass announced that a weeklong crackdown by a task team of Pretoria detectives had secured the arrest of 830 people.

KZN’s 12 most wanted criminals were also revealed, after hundreds of unresolved dockets which had piled up at stations across the province were examined by the visiting team.

SAIRR researcher Frans Cronje said the report detailed a 27,5% rise in the number of people arrested for serious crimes over the past decade, of whom almost 1,4 million were arrested in this year alone.

“Yet over the same period, the number of convictions fell by 9,1%. Convictions as a share of arrests fell from 30,4% to 21,7%, even as one in every 350 people found themselves in jail.”

The figures are based on the national police crime statistics, which are released annually.

They painted a grim picture, with significant rises in violent home and business robberies.

The task team of detectives were publicised amid much fanfare on Friday, and boasted an impressive swathe of 830 arrests since their arrival.

KZN Provincial Commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni said that select documents had been placed under the microscope by the specialist team.

She said that Moonoo and his team had focused on violent contact crime and compiled a list of wanted suspects.

“The intensive work has yielded phenomenal successes,” said Ngobeni, “with detectives throughout the province having worked around the clock this week and arrested over 830 suspects,” she added.

She would not comment on what other arrests had been made.

Ngobeni made an impassioned plea to citizens to come forward with information on crimes happening in KZN.

DA shadow Police Minister Dianne Kohler-Barnard said that the presence of the Pretoria-based team were a dismal indictment on the province’s policing structure.

“It is extraordinary that the moment several well-publicised murders take place in KZN, the SAPS national head office sends down teams to run an operation, arrests criminals, and then returns to Pretoria,” she said.

“It is a stunning indictment on the lack of capacity held by the Provincial Commissioner — herself under a cloud.

“Why were these ‘criminals’ out on the streets of KZN in the first place? Why are the police not sufficiently effective in terms of tracking down and arresting them without national head office intervention?” she quizzed.

“And as happened when the murder rate in the Highway area spiralled out of control, the teams were bussed in, did their work, calmed the fears of the citizens there, and then packed up and left — barely making a ripple in the status quo,” Kohler-Barnard added.


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