South Africa: Police Urged to Increase Visibility On Weekends

12 September 2019

The Portfolio Committee on Police has urged the South African Police Service (SAPS) to consider increasing visible policing in communities over weekends to curb worryingly high murder statistics.

Crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele reveal that South Africans were more likely to become victims of crime over weekends.

In a statement, the committee said it views this trend as unacceptable.

"Every year there is a general increase on crime, yet there are no strident and cutting edge strategies in place to fight crime," the committee said in a statement.

"The committee is of the view that the trajectory of crime cannot continue at the current rate and requires a shift in the way we view policing, from being responsive to being more preventive. This can be achieved through the intensification of collaboration with communities," said committee chairperson, Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

The committee urged police to work towards recapturing their credibility and public trust.

"This will be achieved by being responsive to the concerns of the communities and remove those that are corrupt among them," read the statement.

"The committee is also calling on the communities to work closely with the police and play an active role in the fight against crime. This cooperation cannot, inadvertently remove the crime fighting responsibility away from the South African Police Service (SAPS).

"The police, at station level must constantly improve relations with the communities they service to ensure the existence of the bridges of trust for the purposes of pushing back the frontiers of crime."

The committee also decried as unacceptable the increase in violent crime such as murder, assault and sexual offences.

"There is a cause for serious concern with the increase in 1.4% increase in murder, 4.6% increase in sexual offences, 4.1% increase in attempted murder and 2.2% in Assault with Grievous Bodily Harm," said Joemat-Pettersson.

The committee emphasised that an increase in visible policing will go a long way in reducing crime, and has called on SAPS senior management to move with speed to implement the recruitment drive announced by the President during the State of the Nation Address.

There is also a need to deal with the socio-economic factors that lead to crime. This includes substance abuse and unemployment. The committee believes that there must be a social compact involving all the sectors of society to deal with the fundamental ills that are affecting the country and that are manifesting themselves in crime.

"We have to accept that police alone cannot fight crime as they are at the far end of the cycle, and solutions must be directed towards the root causes of criminal behaviour," Joemat-Pettersson emphasised.

Regarding gender based violence, the committee reiterates its call for strengthening of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit in order to have a focused approach to the current scourge.

The committee will next week have a more detailed analysis of the crime statistics and try to find solutions to the current challenges.

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