Solly Nkhi MPL
Sport, Recreation, Arts & Culture
The self-congratulation and celebration of Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa and National Commissioner Riah Piyega on the annual crime statistics were premature and misguided. The marginal decrease in reported incidents of crime is but a tiny reflection of a much bigger picture.
The official statistics are both outdated and unreliable, and do not capture the sense of despondency that many South Africans feel about their safety.
This is reinforced by the recently released Mo Ibrahim Index which outlines government’s failure to protect its citizens. South Africa scores a mere 33 out of 100 on personal safety. This places it near the continent’s bottom – 41 out of 52 – alongside countries which have experienced severe civil conflict, instability or generally failed governance. Compare that to neighbouring Botswana, which scores 74.
Stats SA’s 2012 Victims of Crime Survey also shows that Gauteng households do not entirely share official optimism and self-congratulation.
Criminals still hold the people of province ransom, and the fear of crime in Gauteng prevents people from leading happy, fulfilled and productive lives, denying them not only economic opportunities, but also the enjoyment of public spaces.
Women in general, and black Africans in Gauteng specifically, are worst affected by fear of criminal activity. The survey also shows that more than two thirds of Gauteng households have put measures in place to protect their homes, while almost a quarter make use of private security companies.
A localised, specialised, targeted and properly informed policing strategy for the province, and each of its unique communities, is needed. Merely poking in the dark, and taking directives from national head office, will neither aid the police, nor the people of Gauteng, in our on-going war against crime.