SA not reassured by self-congratulatory crime assessment
The story of the SA Police Service is a story of assurance and confidence, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega announced yesterday.
''When I look at the crime situation over a period of nine years,'' she said, ''you all see that there is a general decline."
Phiyega's assertion is broadly true: the police have managed, through a variety of strategies, to reduce crime from the shockingly high levels of a decade ago.
But Phiyega's insistence that crime today is ''under control'' has to be challenged.
Though important strides in the year to March have been made in reducing crimes such as bank and cash-in-transit robberies, and in arresting and convicting more suspects, the incidence of the crimes that most terrify us - such as murder, attempted murder, home burglaries, robberies and hijackings - increased year on year.
Crimes such as these break families, crack morale, reduce investor confidence and harm tourism. Combating them should be a national imperative.
Instead of taking a long view and basking in the glory off her predecessors' successes - which were given tremendous impetus by the all-consuming focus on hosting a successful soccer World Cup in 2010 - it is on the present situation that Phiyega needs to focus her mind.
Many of the criminals who murder and maim and invade people's homes are repeat offenders who move from one soft target to another, often in organised, well-armed gangs.
More visible policing, more patrols, better relations between communities and the police and, above all, more and better-trained detectives and improved crime intelligence, are surely the answer.
For the past couple of years, crime intelligence has been going backwards, ensnared in a series of damaging scandals involving its top echelons. Phiyega needs to fix this mess - and see to it that the men and women of our detective services get the resources they need.