This week’s statistics show a disturbing increase in most crimes, with poverty-stricken Eastern Cape surging in murders and sexual offences
On the same day that raped and murdered University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana was being buried in East London, a six-year-old girl was allegedly being raped in Lusikisiki by a 55-year-old man.
According to the national crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele in Parliament on Thursday, Lusikisiki has the second-highest number of rape cases nationally.
Lusikisiki also comes in at number four in cases of sexual offences.
The six-year-old was allegedly raped by a subject adviser in the provincial department of education, who works in the area.
The little girl was on her way to the shops to buy chips in Ngobozana village last Saturday, when the perpetrator asked her to come to his house. This is where he allegedly raped her. The man, a neighbour, was known to the child.
After the incident, the child went home and told her mother what happened. The accused was then apprehended by the community, who alerted the police.
The incident has resulted in angry protests by school children and the community.
Luxolo Tyali, regional spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), said the man appeared in court on Monday and was charged with rape.
The man will appear court again on Tuesday for a formal bail application.
“As the NPA, we are going to oppose bail. We are not going to allow individuals who commit violent crimes against women and children to get bail,” said Tyali.
“On the same day that this man appeared, we successfully opposed bail in the same court, in a case in which a 52-year-old man allegedly raped two girls aged between five and six, also in Lusikisiki.”
Tyali said that the traumatised six-year-old was taken to the NPA’s Thuthuzela Care Centre in Lusikisiki, a one-stop shop for victims of sexual offences that offers counselling and assessment services.
According to the latest crime statistics released by the SA Police Service, rape cases have increased in the Eastern Cape from 6 821 in 2017/18 to 7 305 in 2018/2019.
The Eastern Cape has the third-largest number of rape cases after Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
Lusikisiki Police Station has the second-highest number of rape cases reported, after Inanda in KwaZulu-Natal, out of a list of 30 stations countrywide.
The number of rape cases has increased from 137 in 2014/15 to 280 in 2018/19.
With regard to sexual offences, 155 were recorded in Lusikisiki in 2014/15; the number has jumped to 295 in 2018/19.
When it comes to crimes against women and children, the Eastern Cape is at number four, behind Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
A total of 22 751 cases of crimes against women have been reported in the Eastern Cape, and 6 194 against children. Nationally, 179 683 cases of crimes against women have been reported, and 45 229 cases against children.
In addition, the province features high on the statistics list in terms of murder. Mthatha is the sixth most dangerous place in the country where people are likely to be murdered – making it the Eastern Cape’s murder capital.
The murder rate in Mthatha has increased from 92 in 2014/15 to 181 in 2018/19.
The Eastern Cape has the third-highest murder rate after the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
According to the statistics, 286 murders in the Eastern Cape are caused by misunderstandings or arguments, 119 are gang-related, 166 are as a result of domestic violence, 47 are as a result of mob justice or vigilantism, 31 relate to armed robbery and 23 relate to taxi violence.
The province also ranks at number three when it comes to the killing of police officers.
Last year, the killing of five on-duty police officers at Ngcobo Police Station caused a national uproar. This resulted in a massive manhunt.
Seven on-duty police officers were killed in the province in the previous year, and four off-duty officers were killed.
In Gauteng, eight on-duty police officers and nine off-duty officers were killed in 2018/19.
KwaZulu-Natal had the highest number, with three on-duty officers and 15 off-duty officers killed.
While cash-in-transit robberies have decreased in most provinces, they have doubled in the Eastern Cape from 23 to 46.
Bobby Stevenson, shadow MEC for safety and security for the DA in the Eastern Cape, said the latest provincial crime statistics highlighted what a brutal and violent society “we are living in, where we are haunted by the fear of the criminal element or our general feeling of a lack of safety”.
He said the country was losing its moral values and basic humanity. “There is no longer respect for human life as people engage in senseless and brutal crimes. Criminals clearly no longer fear being caught ... It is clear that the police are failing to curb crime, and the public have lost faith in the police’s ability to protect them.
“The vigilantism that is boiling beneath the surface will explode unless we have more effective policing in this province. We need a society where order prevails over chaos,” he said.
Vuyisile Ntlabati, president of the Eastern Cape Chamber of Business, said the statistics were alarming.
“It shows that South Africa ranks highly in terms of unemployment and poverty. Where there is poverty and unemployment, obviously, the crime becomes really high.
“Government must prioritise working with us as business to create jobs. What is happening in our society is alarming.”
What do you make of the latest statistics? Do you agree that there’s a culture of vigilantism in the country?
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