Robberies on the rise

2015-10-06 06:00
Kewtown is one of Athlone’s crime hotspots, as the annual police crime statistics has revealed. 

Chandrey Howburg

Kewtown is one of Athlone’s crime hotspots, as the annual police crime statistics has revealed. PHOTO: Chandrey Howburg

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Residents in Athlone have experienced an increase in robberies at gun and knife point in the past year.

The annual release of the national crime statistics has revealed 590 cases of common assault were reported in the year to March, up almost 100 cases from the previous year. This is the highest level it has been for the last decade.

Assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm has also increased to its highest level in the last 10 years. Cases of such assault increased 15% in the past year.

Car hijackings in the area have also risen to its second highest level experienced in the last decade.

Drug-related crimes have seen an 10% increase (116 more cases than the previous year).

Gareth Newham, head of the Institute for Security Studies’ crime and justice division, has greeted the release of the statistics with pessimism, saying that the current trend in crime should not be dismissed.

“Armed robberies are a key indicator of police effectiveness because they are typically committed by a relatively small number of repeat offenders who are usually organised. This means that a clear robbery reduction strategy that is intelligence-led and backed up by specialised teams of detectives will lead to the identification, arrest and successful prosecution of increasing numbers of armed robbers and the buyers of stolen goods.

“That robberies have increased raises questions about the extent to which police resources are being effectively used,” he said in a statement.

“South Africans should not have to suffer yet another year in which violent robberies are increasing on their streets and in their homes and places of work. It simply isn’t necessary as this is a crime that the police have the personnel, expertise and resources to reduce. With a budget of around R80bn, some of the best technology in the world, and more than 194 000 personnel, the police should be better able to reduce crimes such as robbery.”

There has been a significant dip in the number of burglaries in both residential and non-residential areas, with a total drop of 187 cases.

Crime hotspotsPolice have identified crime hotspots (where they have found crime to occur most frequently), among which are Kewtown and Bokmakierie.

In Manenberg the murder rate has reached its highest ever level.

“Amid our shortcomings, such as response times and human resource or other shortages, our members are briefed daily and strive to ensure the safety of everyone in the Manenberg precinct,” says Colonel Hendrie Hugo, commander of Manenberg police station.

“The community has its own challenges, such as gangs and substance, domestic violence and crimes against women and children. These are at times not preventable because it happens within homes and various other structures.

“Therefore we will continue our awareness campaign for community members to not be silent but to report any and all matters which they feel can become criminal.”

Hugo points out that the police have not shouldered the burden of fighting crime alone and that various institutions (governmental and non-governmental) have played a role to ensure the safety of the public.

“We will continue to encourage the community to report criminal activity and even the lack of service delivery through our various platforms via the community police forum and sector policing.

“This partnership is vital to bring about change within the community, building a relationship with police members and creating trust.”

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