Is the unemployment rate to blame for crime stats?

A WEEK ago, the SAPS and Statistics SA released criminal statistics which left many divided on opinions about what may be the cause of crime increasing so immensely.

According to the stats report, murder rates increased during the year quite significantly, shooting up 7% to over 20 000 cases recorded in 2017/18. This gives South Africa a rather alarming 57 murders a day at a rate of 35.7 people murdered per 100 000 people.

Cash-in-transit crimes have also r increased, climbing 57% to 238 cases recorded in the past year (from 152 cases previously). In addition, the number of reported rapes in South Africa has also increased to 40 035 cases in the year.

Upper Highway residents shared their views regarding the crimes stats.

Donovan Ponnan said that it is the unemployment that has led to crime not decreasing, saying: “Unemployment leads to poverty, poverty leads to crime because the people who aren’t working find a way to provide for themselves through committing crime.”

He suggested that if job opportunities can be created, maybe crime will decrease.

“Also, the unemployed need to take what they are being offered because every person has to start somewhere to achieve their goals in life,” he said.

Marcel Smuts said that the world is not getting worse, or that crime is increasing, but the fact is that we as human beings are lot better connected than we once were.

“Back then, a lot of things used to get swept under the rug, where no one ever heard about it because it was never reported.

“Say 300 or 400 people died in an incident, you may never have heard about it whereas today, with technology and social media platforms, if five or 13 people died it’s considered a massive event and everyone hears about it so easily,” he explained.

Smuts added that while we as the humans have made the world more or less the same, statistics haven’t changed that much, and a lot of areas have actually dropped, but we are so focused on the negative things because social media is such a big thing.

Mpathisi Serafim stated that crime statistics usually pop-up in crucial political times, “Every time our political structure is about to change, like the recession, they feel like they should create a diversion where people will be focused on that and not what’s really happening in our country. They felt that they need to increase the level of crime; out of the blue there is a number of kidnappings being reported and people are starting to steal children and all these cases don’t actually have solid evidence,” added Serafim.

However, South African Community Crime Watch founder Steven King said that he believes that the unemployment rate has a part to play in increased crime, alongside other socioeconomic factors, saying: “I also believe that poor discipline has a role to play, along with the fact that many punishments don’t fit the crime.

“Our SAPS members, along with all other law enforcement agencies, risk their lives on a daily basis to investigate crimes and apprehend criminals only to be let down in court,” he said. This, he said, sends a message to criminals that crime does pay.

“We need our justice system to work with our law enforcement agencies to make sure that punishment fits the crime and this must be a deterrent,” said King.

In conclusion King said that the other factor is partly a mindset issue.

“We still live with the mind-set of ‘It won’t Happen to Me’ whereas we need to become responsible and make sure that we don’t invite crime into our suburbs by becoming complacent.

“We need stronger community involvement in neighbourhood watches, crime fighting organisations, and joining cpfs,” he advised.

“We all know that SAPS is underfunded and under resourced, let’s take a stand and help them in identifying criminals and problem areas so that the criminal elements will think twice before coming into our neighbourhoods. We need to be unified — crime knows no age, gender or race; it only knows the colour of money,” said King.

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