SAPS maintains its operations are driving down crime

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The South African Police Service’s (SAPS’s) intensive campaign, Operation Shanela, continues to make a positive contribution to the decline of crime in the country, the service maintains.

According to crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday, Operation Shanela has netted 99 754 suspects for various crimes, including murder, rape, assault and other serious charges.

The quarterly crime statistics reflecting on crimes reported and detected by the South African Police Service from 1 April to 30 June 2023 showed that for the first time since COVID-19 reached the country’s shores in 2020, the murder rate of the country has declined in a single quarter.

Between April and June this year, police recorded 6 228 counts of murder, a 196 decrease compared to the same time last year.

Out of the 6 228 people killed between April and June, 1 188 were women and children.

Cele said apart from Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape, all provinces recorded decreases for murder in this quarter.

“While the Northern Cape recorded a 11.1% increase in murder, much welcomed double-digit percentage declines were noted in Limpopo and North West. Murder (from April to June 2023) in those two provinces dropped by 10.0% and 11.5%, respectively,” Cele said.

The Minister said the aggressive policing approach has also been bolstered through Operation Shanela, which was launched on 8 May 2023.

While it’s still early days, the Minister said the effectiveness of the high-density operations is showing in the decline of crime figures.

“While the declines cannot all be attributable to Operation Shanela, its value and impact to the overall policing strategy is noticeable. Communities have so far welcomed the aggressive approach to crime and it is on this score that the policing strategies that are leading us in the right direction will be intensified for more favourable results.”

Cele assured that Operation Shanela is here to stay, and urged the provincial commissioners to continue to lead from the front.

“Work with your members on the ground and sweep clean all crime-ridden areas in your provinces.”

Cele also commended police officers for their dedication, determination and hard work, noting that the decreases in many of the crime categories would not have been achieved without them.

Police killings

However, Cele noted that keeping South Africa safe and going toe-to-toe with criminals is also coming at a high cost for the police service.

He said the Ministry remains very concerned about the rate at which police officers are being killed in the line of duty.

“It cannot be normal that 31 police officers are killed in three months,” Cele said.

He said the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) continues to arrest those who choose to undermine the State by targeting the police for their criminal gains.

“Through the diligent investigative work of the directorate, nine convicted police killers were handed nine life imprisonment sentences, and sum total of 158 years imprisonment. Far too many of our officers are also dying off duty.”

Addressing the National Police Commissioner, Cele said: “This must push you and your management team to double up your efforts in the improvement of the wellness of officers. Police are assets of this nation and must be taken care of physically, mentally and psychologically so they can serve their communities better,” Cele said.

The Minister also commended ordinary South Africans in fighting crime together with the police and all law enforcement agencies.

“We also salute structures in communities, such as Community Police Forums, for their conviction and their participation in the battle against criminality. We have long ago realised that fighting crime is not only the business of the police.

“This government is continually working to make our streets, communities and cities safer places. It is work in progress and we believe that it is not something we will be able to achieve overnight, but it can and it will be done,” Cele said.