'Worrying' murder trend in latest crime stats - analyst

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko (Tammy Petersen, News24)
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko (Tammy Petersen, News24)

Cape Town - An International Security Studies (ISS) analyst said Police Minister Nathi Nhleko's presentation on the 2015/16 crime statistics shows a worrying trend: That violent crimes such as murder have increased over the last four years.

Nhleko was correct in saying the overall crime rate had decreased, but the increase in violent crimes since 2011 tells a different story, Dr Johan Burger of ISS's governance, crime and justice division said.

"What we are worried about, if you look over the 10 year period, is that we've seen a rise in all our serious and violent crimes over the last four years," Burger told News24 on Friday.

"Murder, for instance, decreased from 1994 until 2010/11 by more than 50%.

"But since 2011/12, it's increased year-on-year. For the first time since 1994, we've had an increase in our murder figures for four years in a row now.

The murder statistic may have increased by 4.9% this year, but that's 20% over the last four years, he said.

"It's a similar situation for attempted murder as well: 23.3% over the same period."

Lumping violent crime statistics with less serious and petty crimes gave the impression that the problem was getting resolved, he said.

Standalone rape statistics

Burger said something had gone wrong over the last four years, adding that the economy had played a role in affecting people's social circumstances, in turn leading to criminal behaviour.

He also supported the call for an aggregated breakdown of sexual offences, focusing specifically on rape statistics in the country.

"Yes, we've called for that for some time and I agree with it," he said.

"It's difficult to assess the situation if we only get this broad category for sexual offences, and it isn't broken down into various types of offences.

"We are hoping that the police's annual report released later this month will give us more insight into rape statistics; where it happens, who is most affected and in which provinces."

Nhleko told journalists at Parliament on Friday that 80% of reported sexual offences were rape cases.

Phahlane must be 'given time'

Burger took time to praise Acting National Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, saying the police were much more responsible and honest with the way they presented the facts without "trying to spin them".

Burger said Phahlane should be given a chance to bring stability to the police force through the "Back-to-Basics" project.

"He has made a number of very constructive changes at the leadership level," he said of the acting commissioner.

"He's appointed key individuals in the provinces with good experience, and he's working in areas that we've been calling for [action in] for a long time, like the detective unit and intelligence.

"If he's given enough time and if he's allowed to continue with his job, maybe he will improve the situation by this time next year."

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