Crime statistics worrying

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Reaction to the release of third quarter crime statistics by Police Minister Bheki Cele this week range from “bloodbath” through to “worrying” and “upward trend”.

Among others the numbers Cele made public show between July and September 76 people were murdered, there were 115 rape incidents reported to police, 448 people were assaulted (grievous bodily harm) and there were 383 “serious robberies” according to the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police (PCP) under chair Tina Joemat-Pettersson was “concerned by the upward trend in crime statistics across the board and, in particular violent crime, especially against women and children”.

“The statistics continue to paint a grim picture in the fight against crime,” according to a statement which notes, among others, an 11% increase in sexual offences and murder up 13% in the period under review. “The committee was concerned to hear 558 children were killed from April to September, while 294 attempted murder cases suggests an indifferent society oblivious to the challenges facing women and children.”

DA shadow police minister Andrew Whitfield was scathing in his response saying “the bloodbath of violent crime remains out of control with millions living in fear”.

Elaborating on what he calls President Cyril Ramaphosa’s “soft approach” to crime, Whitfield notes the crime statistics “rob” South Africans of safety and freedom “imprisoning us in the terrifying fear we may become a statistic”.

Pieter Groenewald, Freedom Front Plus (FF+) leader, said Cele’s crime statistics showed police are losing the fight against crime “across the entire spectrum” pointing to increases in contact and sexual crimes as well as the so-called “trio crimes” of robbery with aggravating circumstances or armed robbery, residential robbery and carjackings.

He expressed reservations about the statistics saying Auditor General Tsakani Maluleke earlier this year found figured released for the quarterly crime statistics were not correct. The reason for this, according to Groenewald, is because the statistics cannot be correlated to crime docket numbers. “It frequently happens that people report crime, but don’t receive a case number”.

Releasing the statistics in Pretoria, Cele is reported by SAnews as saying “aggression and violence are at worrying levels in South Africa”.

“Violence meted out not only against women and children, but violence in homes, on our roads and even in public safe spaces such as churches and schools, is staggering,” he said.

Twenty-two police officers were killed during the period under review prompting the police minister to say: “This Ministry will never stop calling on SAPS members to defend themselves at all times from ruthless criminals whenever they are under attack. It is simple; police must meet fire with fire.”