The annual crime stats for the period April 2017 to March 2018 were presented in Pretoria last week. While overall figures show a decrease, Grassy Park showed little change during that period.
When compared to the previous year (2016/17) in respect of total contact crimes, which include crimes such as murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances, only six fewer cases were reported with a total of 1335 cases reported in the last documented period. This figure is still 3.37% above the average reported crime in this category over the last decade (12 899 total cases of contact crime since 2008).
Grassy Park Police Station also recorded a total of 51 cases of rape in the year to March, which are four fewer cases than reported the year before. A total of 79 cases relating to sexual offences were reported in the recorded period, which is the third lowest total in the last 10 years.
“Our murder numbers went up with one case. A lot of our murders are gang related. Our attempted murders are also gang related. With most of our gang-related murders and attempted murders, the perpetrators were arrested and are at Pollsmoor now. The problem we have in Grassy Park is the assaults. Most of them are when they are out at a party then after the party they get in an argument,” says acting Grassy Park police station commander, Lieutenant-Colonel Christiaan Esau.
However, while contact crimes and sexual offences show a marginal decline, carjacking in the area has seen a spike of 47.8%, the highest it’s been for the station in a recorded 10-year period.
“We have found that most of the hijackings are where gangsters are involved. They hijack cars to do the drive-by shootings. With our robberies at houses, there was also an increase, as well as with business robberies,” Esau adds.
Grassy Park Community Policing Forum spokesperson Philip Bam says the numbers don’t paint the entire picture.
“If we compare the whole year, the last year and this year to date, the Grassy Park stats look very bad, because we have not finished the year yet and we are already over in some of the categories,” Bam says.
He adds that it is difficult to pinpoint the reason, but that a shortage of officers has an influence on the effectiveness with which they can fight crime. “We have written to the province and to the cluster to say that we want our people back in Grassy Park. It (crime rate) has stabilised because a lot of our people are awake. I don’t know if it is because the station management has asked those on patrol to do regular checks and searches,” he says, but laments that more people are being robbed en route to work via the main transport corridors in the area.
Esau says that while they would welcome added resources, they are at the mercy of what has been planned nationally and provincially.
“All the stations are understaffed, so we have to work with the 80%. They want to bring all the stations up to the same level before we can get more. We are more than 80% of the staff complement at this station.”
Despite this, police have also increased their rate of curbing crime, with a total of 2409 crimes detected as a result of police intervention, which is 457 cases more than last year and more than double the figure during the same period in 2008/09 (1059 cases). In that figure, the biggest increase was 488 more drug-related arrests in the last year (2251 cases).
Bam says too many suspicious-looking people are allowed to walk the streets freely and that police should get out of their vans instead of just driving around in them. Esau maintains there is a direct relationship between gang activity and the type of crimes which prevail.