PMB station in crime top 20

2008-07-01 00:00

Pietermaritzburg’s Plessislaer Police Station is one of South Africa’s top 20 to have recorded the highest incidence of rape and murder in 2007/08, according to official crime statistics released on Monday.

National SAPS spokeswoman Director Sally de Beer told The Witness yesterday that she is unable to release the exact figures of rape and murder recorded by individual stations at this stage, as these will only be available in two weeks’ time.

However, according to a table published on the national SAPS website, Plessislaer is among six police stations in the province to record the highest murder rate in the 2007/08 year, and is also rated as having the highest reported rapes out of five KwaZulu-Natal stations.

The other KZN stations to feature on the “top 20” list with the most murders are KwaMashu, Umlazi, Inanda, KwaMakhutha, and KwaDabeka.

The provincial stations, other than Plessislaer, which record the highest rape figures are kwaMashu, Inanda, Umlazi and Empangeni.

Overall, the statitics released by Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula indicate that there was an 8,8% decrease in the number of reported rapes in the country last year.

Terming rape a “social crime”, Nqakula said that the apparent decrease in the rape figures cannot be said emphatically to be an indicator that the scourge is lessening. The same could be said for indecent assault where there is a 2,1% decrease, he added.

“Children suffer most from cases of indecent assault. The lowest figure of indecent assault was 12,6% during the 2001/02 reporting period. The highest incident was 16,1% during the 2004/05 financial year.”

He said it should be noted that sexual crimes are often not reported because of the relationship between victim and perpetrator, and because of the stigma attached to rape.

He said the trend that is being observed in South Africa, though, is that the reporting of such crimes has improved.

Nqakula said interventions by non-governmental bodies and the government’s own programmes like the “16 days of Activism Against Women and Children Abuse” have helped to encourage victims to report their trauma to the law enforcement agencies.

This was echoed by Dr Johan Burger, a senior researcher for the Institute of Security Studies, focusing on its crime, justice and politics programme. He told The Witness that rape is a crime that is notoriously under-reported throughout South Africa. Under-reporting of rape fluctuates regularly at a rate of between 30 and 60% “for obvious reasons”.

He said reporting of incidence of rape has been found to be influenced by public awareness campaigns, which sometimes result in a “flood of reports”. However, when the bad experiences of a rape victim received publicity, reports tended to dry up.

Conversely, one of the best reported crimes is that of murder. This is most probably due to the fact that it is generally “difficult to hide dead bodies” and most bodies are reported to the police in some way.

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