South Africa: 'Unacceptable!' - MPs On Crime Stats and 'Highest Murder Rate in 10 Years'

12 September 2019

MPs want the police to have a relook at their crime-fighting strategy as statistics for April 1, 2018, to March 31, 2019, revealed yet another rise in crime.

Police Minister Bheki Cele and the police were briefing the portfolio committee on police about the crime statistics for the 2018/2019 financial year.

After the briefing, the committee released a statement saying it was unacceptable there was a general increase in crime every year, yet there were no strident and cutting edge strategies in place to fight it.

"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 suggested the police should consider increasing visible policing in communities over weekends when more dangerous crimes were committed.

"The police must work hard to recapture their credibility and public trust. This will be achieved by being responsive to the concerns of the communities and remove those who are corrupt among them," read the statement.

The committee also called on communities to work closely with the police.

It viewed the increase in several key violent crime indicators, from murder and assault to sexual offences, as unacceptable.

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

'Highest murder rate in 10 years'

Regarding gender-based violence, the committee reiterated its call for the strengthening of the family violence, child protection and sexual offences unit to have a focused approach to the current scourge.

DA MP Andrew Whitfield said the annual crime statistics "paints a bleak picture of chaos in the country's frontline law enforcement agency, which is losing the battle against crime".

"Of particular concern is the murder rate which is the highest it has been in 10 years, with an average of 57.5 people being murdered a day in South Africa, and a murder rate which has increased by 3.4%.

"The police are also losing the battle against gender-based violence, total sexual offences increased by 4.6% with the sub-category of sexual assault increasing by 9.6%."

He said the statistics were an indictment on the police.

"These blood-chilling statistics and the victims behind the numbers pour cold water on President Cyril Ramaphosa's promise to halve violent crime in the next 10 years," Whitfield added.

"Given poor resource allocation, corruption, poor training, a collapsed intelligence division, and a lack of leadership, it is difficult to believe that SAPS and ANC government have what it takes to restore order and keep communities safe."

He said Cele and Ramaphosa should take full, personal responsibility for the "horrific crime trends".

"All efforts to attract investment, create jobs and build a working and inclusive economy, will be in vain if we cannot control the unacceptable levels of crime that affect all communities and businesses," Whitfield added.

'Chilling statistics'

IFP MP Zandile Majozi said the "chilling statistics" begged the question if the current tactical, strategic and prevention systems were enough to deter criminals from committing these "heinous crimes".

"The IFP rejects the notion that the increase in violence and crime can be ascribed to alcohol and drug abuse on weekends. Reducing South Africans to mere 'weekend specials' is inexcusable. The SAPS and justice and peace cluster ministers continue to sit on their hands while the stats are rising instead of declining."

She said it was deplorable that murder had increased by 3.4 % up to 21 022 cases and reported sexual offences increased by 4.6% up to 52 420 cases.

Majozi added the latter "clearly shows that women are facing war on our streets".

"It is imperative that a culture of discipline be inculcated in our police and at our police stations. Confidence in our men and women in blue serving on the frontline must be restored, but this can only be achieved if bad elements are rooted out of the SAPS.

"We must have a police service that is non-aligned, that takes policing decisions on policing grounds; a police service operating with improved intelligence capabilities that protects people's rights under the Constitution. We simply need a police service that does its job," Majozi said.

Farm murders

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said the statistics showed South Africa was becoming increasingly violent and unsafe for its inhabitants.

"A shocking total of 21 022 people were murdered. That is more than five times the world average. The world average for murder is seven per 100 000 of the population. In South Africa, it is more than 36 per 100 000," he said.

Groenewald added he doubted the accuracy of the farm murder figures provided.

"The statistics show that 47 murders were committed in 41 incidents. However, the agricultural unions' statistics show a much higher murder rate," he said.

"The government must shoulder its responsibility and take drastic steps to turn the South African criminal justice system around to ensure that criminals are punished for their crimes."

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