Eastern Cape crime soars

2017-10-29 05:49

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One of the men in Port Elizabeth’s notorious St Alban’s prison is the one who allegedly raped, robbed and stabbed two students at Nelson Mandela University.

In the evening of October 2, the two women had been studying in the computer laboratory at the Second Avenue campus in Humewood when the man entered the unlocked, access-controlled doors without a student card, and held a pair of scissors against them as he raped them.

The 29-year-old man, who was on parole at the time of the attack, has pleaded guilty to the crime. But the court is yet to accept his plea and so he cannot be named. He was also charged with house robbery.

Despite his crimes, the prison profile of Offender 212721713 tells an even more horrific story.

The first time he entered St Albans Prison was in 2012, after being sentenced on November 20 to seven years in jail for robbery. Less than four years later, he was paroled, on July 14 last year.

Just over a year later, on August 15, Offender 212721713 was back in jail as a remand detainee, but this time under a different name. He was granted bail on September 29 – again on serious charges of armed robbery.

However, his parole on the previous armed robbery charges was not revoked, despite the fact that he was again accused of a serious offence.

Barely a week later, he was back in the system, after being arrested after students staged a protest against the rapes of woman students. Police received a tipoff about a man trying to sell a suspected stolen computer in the city. He was arrested with the computer in his possession, and one of the students’ cellphones.

Rankings

The crime statistics released this week show that, although Gauteng has the highest number of murders in the country (with 4 101 cases reported in 2016/17), the Eastern Cape has the highest murder rate – at 55.9 murders per 100 000 population. It also has the highest rape rate: 105.3 rapes per 100 000 people.

Assessing crime rates year on year is a fairer and more accurate comparison than using the number of actual reported crimes, as it includes the size of the population of a given area in its calculation.

In the murder rankings, the Eastern Cape is followed by the Western Cape (at 51.7/100 000), KwaZulu-Natal (36.6/100 000), Free State (33.3/100 000) and Gauteng (29.3/100 000).

In second place in the rate of reported rape cases are North West and Northern Cape at 95/100 000 and Free State at 94.8/100 000.

Other crime figures in Eastern Cape are just as alarming. Reported cases of armed robbery rose by 7.1%, and those of house robbery increased by 5.7%.

Worse, the rate of reported armed robbery increased by 26% between 2015/16 and 2016/17.

And tensions are rising as high as house boundary walls.

“My biggest fear is that there will be a rise in vigilantism due to poor police performance,” Bobby Stevenson, DA MPL in the Eastern Cape legislature, said this week.

“We had the highest increases of all the provinces in arson at 10.2%, malicious damage to property at 2.1%, theft out of motors vehicles the highest at 8.6% and contact-related crimes the highest, up by 2.5%. Burglary at residential premises was the second highest increase of 2% and theft of motors vehicles the second highest increase at 2.3%.”

Stevenson said that if you live in the Eastern Cape, the expression “every person’s home is their castle” has now become “every person’s home must be a fortress”.

Department of Correctional Services Regional Commissioner Nkosinathi Breakfast said St Albans is seriously overcrowded. There is bed space for
4 081 prisoners, but this week it was home to 5 980 of them, making the facility 147% full. There are 48 prisoners to a cell.

The problem is compounded, Breakfast said, by offenders like 212721713 who find their way back into the system after being released.

“We have a clear case of an offender that is not willing to be rehabilitated,” he said.

“If you look at his profile, you realise that he may just be planning to remain in the system and therefore ensures that each time he is released, he will turn around and come back.”

“What needs to happen is proper implementation of rehabilitation programmes and a renewed relationship balance between the offenders and the officials that guard them,” he said.

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Read more on:    eastern cape  |  crime

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