NATIONAL NEWS - The country and province’s annual crime statistics for the period of 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, released earlier today by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, shows a nearly 50% increase in murders over the last decade. The number of murders in 2019/20 are the highest in ten years, sitting at 3 975 as compared to 2 308 in 2010/11.
Western Cape Minister of Community Safety Albert Fritz responded in a statement this afternoon, in which he summarized several increases in crime categories, including sexual offences (3.7%), rape (4.9%), sexual assault (8.7%), common robbery (0.2%), robbery with aggravating circumstances (2.0%), carjacking (20.3%) and truck hijackings (10.3%).
In addition, he noted a decrease in the police’s ability to detect illegal possession of firearms and ammunition (6.0%), drug related crime (22.9%) and sexual offences (2.4%).
Fritz said some of the statistics released today are over 12 months old, which makes it difficult to respond to changes in crime patterns. “Under the lockdown, the criminal landscape has changed drastically and therefore the statistics provided are largely unhelpful,” said Fritz. He however welcomed Cele’s commitment to provide quarterly statistics.
DA Shadow Minister of Police Andrew Whitfield also responded to the release of the crime stats, saying it is an indication that the South African Police Service is losing the battle against most major crimes.
In the DA’s statement on the matter Whitfield said the party will “urgently” write to Cele, to “provide clarity on several problematic and confusing aspects of the annual crime statistics for 2019/2020”. One of the issues mentioned by Whitfield involves the rape statistics: “The overall number of rapes increased by 1.7% to 42 289 cases, but rapes against women and children decreased by 15.8% to 25 801 cases.
"These figures appear to indicate that 16 488 rape cases were against men. Does this mean that rape against men therefore accounts for almost 40% of all rapes?” reads the statement.
“More worryingly, during the presentation SAPS indicated these rape figures against women and children are ‘not yet completed’ and are ‘preliminary’.”
Decline during lockdown
Fritz said although there is a nearly 50% increase in murders over the last ten years, the figures have stabilized, compared to the previous year. “This could be attributed to the deployment of the SANDF on 19 July 2019 which focused on selected police stations in the Western Cape with high rates of violence and which were considered murder hotspots,” said Fritz.
“Over this period, the Department used the Forensic Pathology Service’s alleged murder statistics to monitor homicides at stations where Operation Lockdown was active. There was a steep increase in murders prior to Operation Lockdown, and a slight decline during suggesting that Operation Lockdown might have reduced homicide numbers in the police stations where the operation took place.”
Read the rest of the statement by Minister Albert Fritz:
Over the 2019/20 period, there were 3555 attempted murders, a decrease of 7.9% from the previous year. Overall, there was a 15.8% reduction in attempted murders across the 11 priority areas. While I welcome this decrease, the number of attempted murders in the province remains too high.
Of the top 30 stations for reporting murder, 10 precincts are in the Western Cape and account for 42.7% of murders in the province. Of the 10, 9 are located within the Cape Flats and include Delft, Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Mfuleni, Harare, Gugulethu, Philippi East, Mitchells Plain and Samora Machel.
I welcome the significant decrease in murders reported in Nyanga (36%), Philippi East (15.7%) and Mitchells Plain (22.3%). However, the 253.3% increase in murders in Samora Machel is of grave concern and requires urgent attention from the SAPS in the Western Cape.
Gang related crime
A significant social ill which plagues this province, more so than others, is the prevalence of gangs and gangsterism. Gangs are attributed with being the causative factor throughout the country in:
- 40 cases of common assault;
- 97 cases of assault with gross bodily harm (GBH);
- 1248 cases of attempted murder; and
- 905 of murders.
The Western Cape Government is investigating a number of programmes to prevent violence in our society. This is essential in our fight against gangsterism and addressing the culture of violence which permeates every facet of our lives in the Western Cape.
Gender based Violence (GBV) and Domestic Violence (DV)
Overall, the number of cases of sexual offences have increased by 3.7% from 2018/19. The number of cases of rape has increased by 4.9% and the number of cases of sexual assault has increased by 8.7%.
While there has been a decrease in reports of attempted sexual offences (19.6%) and contact sexual offences (18.2%), police precincts within the Western Cape account for 17 of the 30 top stations where sexual assault is reported.
There were increases in reported cases of sexual assault at Mitchells Plain (25.8%), Delft (31.7%), Lentegeur (32.1%), Milnerton (61.9%) and Worcester (66.7%).
In South Africa, DV has been the causative factor in:
- 21 344 cases of common assault;
- 14 907 cases of assault GBH;
- 923 cases of attempted murder; and
- 1482 cases of murder.
As the Minister of Community Safety, I will support the Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez, who is the lead Minister in fighting GBV.
I am pioneering the following programmes to address the prevalence of GBV and DV in our province:
- Creating a guide and disseminating information on how to get a protection order;
- Tasking a full-time official within Court Watching Brief Unit to monitor GBV and DV related cases;
- Establishing a campaign to increase and train volunteers at victim support rooms; and
- Conducting monitoring and evaluation and provide related assistance to SAPS in terms of compliance with the Domestic Violence Act.”
The National Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, announced that throughout South Africa, incidents on farms increased from 41 in 2018/19 to 46 in 2019/20 and murders from 47 to 49.
I wish to state the importance of looking at farm murders holistically. Through the inter-ministerial committee on rural safety, our focus is not limited to attacks on farmers, but we also consider the impact of violence faced by farmers and agri-workers. We must prioritise the safety of all in our rural communities.
Western Cape Safety Plan
The Western Cape Government’s top priority is to create a safe and prosperous province for all our residents, and this is why we launched the Western Cape Safety Plan at the end of last year.
Our first tranche of 500 law enforcement officers were deployed in February this year, and I now look forward to receiving quarterly statistics which will assist us in our data-led and evidence-driven approach to halve the murder rate over the next ten years. If fully implemented in a good faith partnership with SAPS, it will significantly contribute towards reducing the murder rate and related crime categories.
I again wish to welcome the decision to issue quarterly crime statistics. During the lockdown we saw a decrease in murders and simultaneously an increase in other crime categories. In recent weeks, we have seen numerous protests in which there were land invasions, destruction of property, tire burning, barricading of roads and petrol bombings.
I wish to reiterate that these acts are criminal and that SAPS has a role to play in preventing and putting a stop to violent protest action.
While the statistics released today do not speak to these crimes, future statistics will reveal the impact of both the lockdown and Western Cape Safety Plan on crime in the province.
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