Opening a gap for criminals

2013-09-20 00:00

INSTABILITY in the country’s crime intelligence unit may be the reason behind a 400% increase in business robberies over the past 10 years.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS), reacting to the release of the national and provincial crime statistics, said the unit’s troubles may be giving organised crime a space to operate within.

Since 2011, the unit has been beset with internal issues.

The unit’s former head, Richard Mdluli, has been accused of a myriad of offences, including murder, corruption and abuse of state resources. He was suspended in 2011. While charges against Mdluli were dropped in February last year, he has yet to return to work after the lobby group Freedom Under Law (FUL) obtained a court order to have the decision to withdraw charges against Mdluli reviewed.

In 2012, the CIU suspended the unit’s chief financial officer, Major General Solly Lazarus, and the unit’s head of logistics, Colonel Hein Barnard, for the alleged theft of R370 000.

ISS analyst Gareth Newham said the destabilising of the crime intelligence unit within the SAPS over recent months has resulted in an increase in organised crime.

“These big shifts within the police have affected their ability to fight crime. Unless we see immediate action to rectify this unit, it will not improve and organised crime will continue to strengthen.

“Unfortunately, professionalism is being undermined. Good police officers are demoralised. There is also uncertainty because of the alleged political interference with the SAPS,” said Newham.

He said South Africa’s murder rate is still four times higher than the global average and that the key to bringing down crime would include the increasing of the number of social workers, not police.

“Our ratio of policemen is at just over 300 people to every one officer. We need our police to be working smarter and social services intervening,” said Newham.

In KwaZulu-Natal in the past 12 months, almost all ser­ious contact crimes — including murder, assault, sexual crimes and robbery — spiked upwards.

In the past 10 years, residential and business robberies have risen by 154% and 440% respectively, which correlates with the national upward trend in these crimes.

However, over the past decade, all the contact crimes decreased between 17 to 50%, except for sexual crimes, which increased by nine percent.

In a statement, KZN provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, said while they noted the increase in serious crimes within the province, “our overall performance over the past five years has shown that crime in KZN has stabilised”.

“Crime is caused by multiple factors that interact in a complex way. There is no single cause of crime and the search for simple causes will merely lead to simplistic and ineffective strategies. It is also accepted that some of the causes of crime are deeply rooted, and related to the history and socioeconomic realities of our society. At the same time, different types of crime have different root causes and require different approaches. Crime prevention by all actors within society is necessary to assist in reducing crime,” Ngobeni said.

She said police stations that had experienced increases in contact crimes will be monitored.

Mary de Haas, who runs the non-profit KZN Violence Monitor, said the statistics cannot be seen as credible, as there is a fair amount of under-reporting.

“The rate of rape is not accurate, [nor] is burglary and assault. While there has been a definite fall in murder, largely linked to the decrease in political violence, it cannot be disputed that the rate of violence is still too high,” said De Haas.

She said statistics from each police station should be available throughout the year.

“The police are fixated about bringing down the crime statistics. However, there seems to be less of a concern about the safety of those living in rural areas. With more up-to-date information, communities will be able to mobilise better,” said De Haas.

Crime in your area: page 3

The police are to give special attention to certain police stations that have seen an increase in certain contact crimes.


Murder (M), Attempted Murder (AM), Housebreaking Business (HBB), Housebreaking Residential (HBR), Carjacking (CJ), House Robbery (HR), Business Robbery (BR)

*Inanda (M, AM, HR, BR, HBR)

*KwaMashu E (M, AM)

*Plessislaer (M)

*Mpumalanga (M)

*Empangeni (M, AM, HBR, BR)

*Umlazi (AM, HBR, CJ)

*Pinetown (HBB, HBR, CJ, HR, BR)

*Durban Central (HBB, BR)

*Umbilo (HBB, CJ)

*Umlazi (HBR, CJ)

*Isipingo (CJ)

*Chatsworth (CJ)

*Bayview (CJ)

*Sydenham (CJ)

*Hillcrest (HR)

*Greenwood Park (BR)

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