With the release of the annual crime stats for the year April 2017 to March 2018 in Pretoria last week, the figures for Steenberg Police Station show a decrease in reported crime, while there has been a significant increase in the arrest numbers for the same period.
A total of 880 contact crimes, which include crimes such as murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances, were reported, which are 122 cases fewer than during the same period last year (2016/17).
Steenberg Police Station also recorded a total of 43 cases of rape in the year to March, which are two fewer cases than reported the year before. A total of 73 cases relating to sexual offences were reported in the recorded period, eight fewer than last year, but not as low as 2014/15 when a total of 47 sexual offences were reported, which is the lowest tally recorded in the last decade.
“Murder is always a big concern, whether it stabilised and remains the same. The murders in the Steenberg precinct are always negatively influenced by the gang shootings. I am not saying that it should not be taken into account – it is still a person who is being killed, whether it is a gangster, it is still someone’s son or brother – but it also exacerbates the number of killings in the precinct,” says Mark Rossouw, spokesperson for the Steenberg Community Policing Forum (CPF).
However, while contact crimes and sexual offences show a marginal decline, carjacking and business robberies in the area have seen a spike of 54.5% and 77.8% respectively, the highest they have been for the station in a recorded 10-year period.
“With regards to the carjacking, a lot of the carjackings reflect the Uber drivers in the area. We had several of them hijacked in the last year in the main road in Steenberg. That is why I don’t think Uber goes into Steenberg and Lavender Hill, because that adds to the number,” says Rossouw.
He recalled a few business robberies in the last year, and attributes some of the causes to groups who line up bigger targets but end up settling for easier, smaller targets in the area.
“It is opportunistic, because what normally happens is Steenberg or Retreat is not really their intended target, because they would go for the bigger targets in Claremont, Cape Town or Wynberg, but it doesn’t work out. When they come back or wherever they come from, they hit a smaller target. Although it was not the intended target it is still something,” explains Rossouw.
Despite this, police have also increased their rate of curbing criminals, with a total of 2578 crimes being detected as a result of police intervention, which is 737 cases more than last year and more than double the figure during the same period in 2008/09 (1771 cases). In that figure, the category with the biggest increase was 746 more drug-related arrests in the last year (2444 cases).
“The community have become more vigilant, calling the police, giving tip-offs and such. It is through the vigilance of the community that the police are able to make more arrests. The relationship between the community and the police can always be better. Our community is very fickle. From the CPF side, we try to cross the divide to get them closer to the police. It is much better than it used to be, but there is still room for improvement,” he says.
He urged residents to report crime to the proper police station, particularly in the greater Lavender Hill area as there has been an increased frequency in crime being called through to Steenberg Police Station incorrectly.
“A lot of the shootings which happened in Lavender Hill over the last few months, those shootings happened in the Muizenberg precinct, but the community don’t know this. They don’t know the borders, because nobody really cares where the borders are when people are shooting. Steenberg can’t react if it is not in their area and that is why the base station there plays a pivotal role. The base station is on the border between Muizenberg and Steenberg and it services both precincts,” Rossouw says.
Heading to the end of the year, Rossouw says the CPF and the community at large hope and pray that the shootings die down for good so that everyone can have a peaceful festive season.
“We hope and pray that going into the festive season, the gang-related shootings taper off, especially for the children. That is always the greatest concern – the children who get caught up in the crossfire. That is my hope, so we can enjoy the festive season and the school holidays coming up.”
Anyone with information about any crime should call Steenberg police on 021 702 9000.