2013/14 Crime Stats – time for talk is over, greater and immediate cooperation required

Dan Plato, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety

The national annual crime statistics released today by National Police Minister, Nkosinathi Nhleko, and National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, paints a bleak picture of the South African Police Services’ (SAPS’) ability to control and combat crime in the province, despite the commitment from the SAPS to provide better policing service delivery.

I am deeply concerned that the Western Cape has recorded worse results than last year and considerably worse results compared to national averages on almost all major crime categories.

I welcome the announcements by Minister Nhleko and Commissioner Phiyega regarding their commitment to the professionalisation of the police service and the value of partnerships in the fight against crime. Failures in the criminal justice system must not go unchecked and needs greater scrutiny.

Further commitments to better policing service delivery are also welcomed in addition to the announcement of the Memorandum of Understanding between SAPS and StatsSA which will hopefully see regular reporting on crime stats in South Africa to better inform intelligence driven interventions from the entire safety fraternity.

Despite Provincial Commissioner Lamoer’s assurances last week that the province only experienced fluctuations of 2% – 4%, the Western Cape recorded:

  • 8% increase in Murder (nationally an increase of 5%);
  • 7% increase in Robbery with Aggravating Circumstances (nationally an increase of 12.7%);
  • 8% increase in Carjackings (nationally an increase of 12.3%);
  • 5% increase in Contact Crimes (nationally an increase of 0.5%);
  • 6% increase in Contact Related Crimes (nationally a decrease of 1.3%);
  • 3% increase in Property Related Crimes (nationally a decrease of  0.2%); and
  • Only a 1.7% increase in crime detected as a result of police action (nationally an increase of 18.2%).

In many of these categories the WC is behind in the actual number of cases recorded when compared to other provinces, however, it is clear from the statistics that the SAPS in the Western Cape are on the back-foot in the fight against the scourge of crime in the province.

I am extremely concerned that the Western Cape recorded the highest increase in murder in the country at 12.8%. Despite the fact that the actual number of murders place the province at fourth in the country with 2909, behind KwaZulu Natal (3 625), Eastern Cape (3 453) and Gauteng (3 333), the Western Cape is recording an increasing trend while other provinces are experiencing decreasing trends.

Drug related crimes remain a concern in the province with a year-on-year increase of 4.1%. The actual number of cases, 85 463 recorded in 2013/14, remains far too high.

The SAPS in the province is functionally under-resourced with as much as 85% of stations without adequate manpower.

Because of the insufficient resources and lack of visible policing, crime is left unabated. When arrests occur, they are not followed-up with adequate prosecution and convictions due to insufficient investigations or evidence. Convictions are key to reducing crime and a failure to convict sends a message to criminals that there are no consequences to their actions.

The Western Cape Government acknowledges that the SAPS cannot go at it alone. That is why we have adopted a whole-of-society approach to increasing safety in the province. This means that all relevant departments in the different spheres of government, together with civil society and the community at large must play their part in ensuring the safety of people where they work, live or move about.

We therefore support Minister Nhleko and General Phiyega’s call for greater cooperation between all members of the justice system, including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the courts. A weakness in one link in the criminal justice system, or worse the breaking of a link, can mean a criminal escapes without punishment for his/her crimes.

I met with Minister Nhleko earlier this week to discuss safety related concerns and I will urge both the Minister and General Phiyega, in order to improve on police service delivery to:

  • Ensure an equitable distribution of SAPS resources in response to the latest crime statistics and provincial policing needs and priorities; and
  • Provide regular crime statistics to improve intelligence driven safety interventions, in terms of policing by SAPS and other safety role-players.

In general, the statistics make it clear that when it comes to combatting crime in South Africa and especially in the Western Cape, we cannot allow a business-as-usual approach. The year-on-year increases in crime must be stopped.