The SAPS can’t do it on their own – top 10 murder areas are worse than before

Dan Plato MPP

Western Cape Minister of Community Safety

The release of the annual crime statistics by the South African Police Service (SAPS), worryingly shows that the SAPS have been unable to prevent an increase in the number of murders in the areas identified the year before as the most crime affected in the province. The result has been a disastrous 12% increase in murder since last year. At the same time, the recently released Census figures show a significant increase in the number of inhabitants in the Western Cape and one can only conclude that despite a massive annual budget, police resources appear lacking where they are most needed and necessary to deal with a growing population. The Western Cape Police Commissioner is responsible for properly resourcing police stations and must address this urgently.


The Western Cape Government, City of Cape Town, civil society, and NGOs are all working toward improving socio-economic conditions and are offering our hand to support the police, who clearly cannot win the war against crime on their own. It is my hope that they will now accept that partnerships are essential if we are going to turn the tide against crime in this country, and that crime information needs to be shared.

Earlier this year, I referred the disturbing police to population ratios to the provincial parliament for interrogation. Areas most affected by violent crime were the ones that had the lowest numbers of police officers serving them, compared to the number of people living in those areas. While the police have tried to explain away the complexities of the calculations of these numbers, the simple fact remains that there are not enough visible officers on the ground conducting the kinds of activities that prevent and combat crime.

Placing insufficient numbers of police officers in an area is not only a risk for the community, but a risk for the police officers themselves who are essentially under resourced to deal with high levels of crime. More regular crime statistics would go a long way towards empowering communities to take preventative action and lessen the crime prevention burden placed on SAPS.

The National Minister of Police boasted an average national police: population ratio of 1:336 – this is clearly not the case in areas most in need of visible policing:

2011 – 2012

2012 – 2013

Number +/- by

Percentage +/- by

Police: Population Ratio

Nyanga

233

262

+

29

+

12%

1:1418

Khayelitsha

161

168

+

7

+

4%

1:1675

Harare

154

132

22

14%

1:1702

Gugulethu

120

129

+

9

+

8%

1:1273

Kraaifontein

94

121

+

27

+

29%

1:1630

Delft

87

113

+

26

+

30%

1:1166

Mfuleni

67

99

+

32

+

48%

1:1095

Mitchells Plain

66

91

+

25

+

38%

1:3239

Philippi

35

71

+

36

+

103%

1:481

Bishop Lavis

54

59

+

5

+

9%

1:1064

Figure 1: Murders in the Western Cape – top 10 most affected areas

The 10 police stations with the worst murder rates in 2011-2012 were also among those stations that had police:population ratios with three to four times less officers than the national norm. The latest figures show that these stations have experienced high increases in murder numbers.

The Provincial Police Commissioner, who according to the SAPS Act, is responsible for determining “the distribution of the strength of the Service under his or her jurisdiction in the province among the different areas, station areas, offices and units” must act and ensure that high violence areas have the capacity and resources to address increasing murders.

I look forward to discussing these matters with General Lamoer when he appears before the Western Cabinet and exploring how we can work better together.