‘Trio crime stats must fall’

2017-03-05 06:01
Khomotso Phahlane

Khomotso Phahlane

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Acting National Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane has summoned 350 commanders of police stations across the country to a meeting to discuss the ongoing scourge of illegal guns and armed robberies, and how officers can work to combat this.

The meeting, which starts today in Mpumalanga, follows the release of national crime statistics covering the last nine months of 2016 by the SA Police Service (SAPS) in Parliament on Friday.

This is the province where the largest crime increase was recorded.

The latest statistics also revealed that although many crimes had decreased between April and December last year, armed robbery was up by 6.1%.

Its subcategories – called “trio crimes” – include house robbery, which rose by 5.3%; business robbery, which was up by 6.5%; and hijackings, which increased by a whopping 14.9%.

However, figures also revealed positive news for South Africans, showing that general crime declined during the first three quarters of the 2016/17 financial year, compared with the same period in 2015.

Phahlane told City Press on Friday evening that he was unimpressed with the figures and had called on the 350 “police generals” to don their thinking caps and come up with what he called “lasting solutions to address the problem of trio crimes”.

The upward trend in trio crimes, he said, was not new as figures had shown an increase in previous years.

“Definitely a response is required from us. That is an area that we need to be working very hard on,” he said.

“Obviously, these crimes are also an indicator of the availability of illegal firearms, because when car hijackings are being committed, firearms are involved. When robberies are being committed, firearms are being used.”

Phahlane said the proliferation of illegal firearms was a serious matter and would feature prominently on the meeting’s agenda.

“We are meeting between Sunday and Tuesday,” he said.

“This strategy session will bring together everyone in the police service who is called a general from across the country. We will be looking at a plan for how to deal with [these] incidents of crime. This will be informed by our performance and our challenges out there.”

Phahlane attributed some of the SAPS’s achievements in having reduced crime to hard work by his team and positive cooperation from the public.

“If you look at the first quarter of the statistics – from April to June 2016 – there were some increases in all categories of crimes. But from the second quarter, crime started coming down.

“I think we dealt with crime over the festive season through the operations that we conducted,” he said.

He attributed this crime reduction to maximum visibility and intensified operations. Police had conducted several road blocks and were scattered across public areas, including shopping centres, over the festive season.

Phahlane is known for introducing what he calls a “back-to-basics approach”, saying police management was regularly assessing and developing strategies to intensify its operations, and that this led to “a 1.7% decrease in crime in the second quarter and a further 5.3% in the third quarter, and that trend continued with all other crimes”.

Although Phahlane was unwilling to single out police stations that had made a difference, saying the crime statistics would not be detailed to station level, he did say Free State continued to lead when it came to reducing crime.

Limpopo and Northern Cape, which were the worst performing provinces in the previous financial year, also fared well.

Phahlane added that KwaZulu-Natal was among the top-performing provinces.

“Progress is being made in Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape,” he said, but added that Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape remained provinces which showed an overall increase in crime.

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