Police Minister Bheki Cele says steep increases in the quarterly crime statistics, are a result of a normalisation of statistics as opposed to the same reporting period last year when the country was in lockdown.
Cele was speaking during the release of the quarterly crime statistics, which reflect double-digit increases in crimes that occurred between April and the end of June this year.
“The crime statistics of the first quarter…are dismal if not understood within the context that lockdown levels introduced an irregular variation into the crime trends. This however does not get us off the hook. While the double-digit increases do not necessarily reflect a true picture because they are being compared to an abnormal period when the country was at a standstill. It still means more work must be done to ensure the safety of all those who live within our borders. ” he said at a media briefing on Friday.
The Minister, however, accepted that crime levels are rising at an alarming rate.
“The crime holiday is long gone and these figures should action us and strengthen us in our resolve. The figures – as distorted as they are – must also sharpen the South African Police Service (SAPS) operational responses to make South Africa safe for all those who live in it.”
The statistics reflect the following increases in the different crime categories: A 60, 6% increase in contact crimes such as murder, attempted murder, sexual offences and all categories of assault when compared to the same period last year. There were 5760 murders during the first quarter of the year – an increase of 66,2% A 74, 1% increase in sexual crimes. The minister revealed a 72,4% increase in reported rape cases with 10006 victims coming to the fore. A 92% increase in trio crimes like house robberies, business robberies and hijackings. A 35% increase in other serious crimes like commercial crime, shoplifting and theft.
National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole says despite these numbers, police are still out in full force, fighting crime.
“We are not yet losing the battle. The battle is still in progress. The stats that have been released now are operational stats, not strategic stats. What determines performance is the strategic stats. From here we’ll be going back to the drawing board and we will be coming up with the crime stats response action plan in order to respond to the current picture and I’m convinced that we’ll be able to change it.”
Cele said the SAPS is also facing challenges with the service impacted by COVID-19 related deaths and thousands of members contracting the virus.
He added that members were also retiring from or leaving the service.
However, Cele says this cannot excuse the increases in crime.
“The impact of COVID-19 has been hard on the South African Police Service. The police service is bleeding members through attrition and the virus has resulted in the inability to take in new police recruits for 2020 and 2021.
“The virus has also meant scores of police stations have had to close due to contamination. The virus has infected over 38 000 members. Sadly, 821 of our colleagues [have passed away] due to this virus including our Deputy National Commissioner [Lieutenant-General] Sindile Mfazi, who passed away last month. With these realities that face the SAPS, complacency cannot be tolerated,” said Cele.