Free State Crime Stats: Marginal decrease in crime

James Letuka, MPL

Free State Provincial Legislature

The DA welcomes the marginal overall reduction in crime in the Free State as per the statistics released by the SAPS. However, we remain concerned that overall criminal activity in the province remain unacceptably high.

Cases of murder in the province decreased by 7.5% over the 2013/14 review period to a ratio of 34.4 murders per 100 000. Attempted murder also decreased marginally by 3.8%.

Cases of reported sexual assault decreased by 8.3% from the previous year. We remain concerned because sexual and domestic violence remain underreported since victims often fear further victimisation at the hands of their perpetrators and the police. We believe the current statistics are only the tip of the iceberg.

Residential robberies across the Free State decreased marginally by 9.8% after a shocking 26.1% increase the previous year. House breaking for the 2013/14 year also decreased by 5.7%.

The SAPS also reported an increase of 11.4% in kidnapping cases. We strongly suspect that this is linked to human trafficking and more must be done to fight this scourge.

There is a direct correlation between the province’s desperate economic outlook and the unacceptable high levels of crime in the province.

The STATS SA General Household Survey released earlier this year painted a dismal picture of the Free State economy. Out of a provincial population of 2.7 million people, only 514 000 cited salaries as a main source of income, while 477 000 cited social grants as the only source of income. Only 59.6% of Free State Households are salaried, while 55.2% are either completely dependent on social assistance, or depend on social grants to supplement their income.

The current provincial unemployment rate is at 40% (expanded definition). Out of a total workforce population of 1.25 million, 496 000 people are unable to find jobs. Youth unemployment in the Free State is the highest in the country at 48.2%.

With a negative economic outlook such is this, that leaves people unable to find employment, people will increasingly in their desperation resort to crime.

Under Premier Ace Magashule’s successive administrations the Free State economy has gradually deteriorated and unemployment has skyrocketed and crime remains unacceptably high. Premier Magashule and his government clearly do not have the vision nor the policies to take the province forward. Under their watch life is just getting worse for more and more people who find themselves entrapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and crime.