Arrest spike due to police 'targeting the poor', says criminologist

24 October 2017 - 10:20 By Graeme Hosken
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula.

A criminologist claims that an increase in arrests through police action is nothing more than a move to target the poor.

Police minister Fikile Mbalula‚ who released the crime statistics on Tuesday‚ revealed that there had been an increase in arrests‚ attributing this to hard-working police.

The statistics show that there were nearly 400‚000 criminal cases opened as a result of police action.

These cases related to arrests for the illegal possession of guns and ammunition‚ driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol‚ drug-related crimes and people arrested for sexual offences.

Image: Institute for Security Studies

However‚ the head of the Institute for Security Studies' justice and crime-prevention programme‚ Gareth Newham‚ said that if one looked at the 400‚000 cases‚ "just under 300‚000 were cases opened against people who were arrested for small amounts of drugs. These cases will not go anywhere in the criminal justice system and will do nothing to reduce crime."

He added: "The consequence of these mass increases in arrests‚ is that it is the poor who make up the majority of the crimes detected as result of police actions. It shows that the police are simply sweeping South Africa's poor areas‚ instead of taking proper action to address serious and violent crimes."