Cape Town – While figures for violent crimes attracted harsh criticism from those reacting to Police Minister Fikile Mbalula's presentation of the past year’s crime statistics to the Portfolio Committee on Police, some have welcomed the police's efforts to fight crime.
In a statement released after the meeting, committee chairperson Francois Beukman said the portfolio committee was of the view that the appointment of a National Commissioner of Police by President Jacob Zuma was of vital importance in dealing with the challenges affecting policing in South Africa.
"The country needs a competent accounting officer who has the energy, strategic vision and innovation to fight crime and corruption," Beukman said.
He emphasised that the increase in murder nationally was a huge concern and was indicative of the level of violence in society.
Call to urgently tackle robberies
The increase in aggravated robbery overall, by 6.4% countrywide, was affecting the general feeling of safety of citizens and should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
The committee was concerned that the trio of crimes have gone up, with carjacking increasing by 14.5%, robbery at residential premises by 7.3%, and robbery at non-residential premises by 5%.
While he said that the overall decrease in sexual offences detected as a result of police action (5.7%) should be welcomed, he added that significant decreases in Limpopo (-62.15%) and Mpumalanga (-55.9%) should be addressed, the statement stated.
Although Police Minister Fikile Mbalula's plans to stabilise the police's leadership were welcomed during his presentation, challenges exposed through the figures were also criticised.
Both ANC MP Maapi Molebatsi and DA MP Zakhele Mbhele expressed concern over figures for murder.
'We are not safe'
Mbhele pointed out that the figures for murder and attempted murder revealed that “we are not safe in our homes and on the street, which is a failure of police".
He said the situation was not something to laud, but rather to lament.
However, NFP MP Munzoor Shaik-Emam said: “There has been some success, but let us not forget there are some very serious challenges in policing in the country.”
FF Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said the presentation started with a "nice rosy picture".
However, he zoomed in on the fact that, over the past five years, carjacking had increased by 77.5%, residential robberies by 33.2% and non-residential robberies by 42.6%.
"These are huge increases," he said.
IFP MP Themba Msimang said he thought a referendum on the death penalty should be called.
Referring to farm murders, DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said: "The people who feed the country feel they are abandoned by police."
However, ANC MP Leonard Ramatlakane took a moment to point out that police officers work hard.
"When we discuss the stats, we forget to say to them they are doing a thankless job. They pay, with their lives, to ensure that we sleep peacefully at night."
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