Anthony Benadie MPL
Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga
The DA welcomes the announcement on Friday by community safety, security and liaison MEC Vusi Shongwe that contact crimes have been reduced, but we remain concerned that the war on crime will never be won unless police resources are significantly increased.
The news of a reduction in crimes recorded is always welcome, but the DA remains sceptical as to how over 37 000 incidences of contact crime in the course of a year can be regarded as a victory. Besides, there are seven more murders during this reporting year at 729, and although a significant reduction from the 1099 reported in 2004/5, it is still 729 murders too many.
The DA is not convinced that the reduced number of contact crimes is a result of proactive policing. These crimes tend to occur randomly and are normally subject to a number of influencing factors, such as drug or alcohol abuse.
That said, crimes which could be prevented by a heavier police presence in our streets, rural areas and townships are on increase. Robberies at home or in businesses, burglaries at both, theft and stock theft are all on the increase, proving that there are simply not enough policemen and women on the ground fighting crime.
It is a widely known fact that the SAPS is critically underfunded and under-resourced. Active policing shifts are in critical need of personnel, vehicles and equipment. It is not uncommon to have only two or three vehicles and 10 police officers on shift to serve densely populated urban areas. Rural areas are even more poorly policed, as patrol beats cover hundreds of square kilometres, and police simply cannot get to emergencies fast enough.
Detectives have case-loads numbering in the hundreds, and are simply not able to investigate each as thoroughly as possible, and more often than not, have to share one vehicle with two or three other detectives.
However, it does appear that police operations are yielding positive results, as more cases of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and drug related incidents were filed, proving our point that an increased police presence will reduce crime.
The war on crime will not be won if government continues to neglect the dedicated men and women in blue while they go about the execution of their duties. Not just does Mpumalanga need more proactive police and detectives in the front lines, but we need to establish specialised units to deal with certain crimes. We need rural safety units, anti-drug units and sexual crime units. As an interim measure units such as Tactical Response Teams must be deployed to crime hot-spots, and conduct regular stop-and-search operations as well increased patrols.
Mpumalanga’s current policing programme is not yielding the necessary results, and needs to be realigned to create an effective response to crime.