Violent crime rises – we must do more‚ says Mbalula

24 October 2017 - 16:08 By Graeme Hosken
Fikile Mbalula
Fikile Mbalula
Image: Sunday Times

Death‚ mayhem and destruction. Rape‚ sexual assault and pillaging. All of them on the rise in South Africa.

Yet acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Lestja Mothiba is confident that citizens have faith in the country's thin blue line of policemen and women.

"I am confident that South Africans are confident in our organisation‚" said Mothiba at a press conference just hours after the release of the crime statistics on Tuesday.

South Africa’s latest police crime statistics paint a picture of a country at war with itself.

South Africans‚ according to the Institute for Security Studies [ISS]‚ are now 13% more likely to be murdered than they were in 2012.

Murder has risen by 1.8% to 19‚016 killings in the 2016/2017 financial year when compared to the 2015/2016 financial year. That equates to 52 murders a day – five times the global rate. Of those killed‚ 3‚478 were women and children.

According to police statistics‚ there are 52 attempted murders and 61 home robberies on average a day‚ with 46 vehicles hijacked daily – along with 16 aggravated [violent] robberies occurring every hour [386 per day].

 

All of these crimes‚ say criminologists‚ fall under categories that are feared most by South Africans.

For police minister Fikile Mbalula‚ who is far from happy with the latest statistics‚ it’s back to basics – the rejuvenation of police war rooms and defunct crime intelligence capabilities.

"It will be expensive‚ but it is steps we have to take. It cannot be business as usual or unusual‚” he said.

"We have to revive specialised units‚ have competent police officers who know how to investigate crimes‚ make arrests and ensure that cases are so solid that we secure convictions. Criminals have too many rights in this country‚ while our citizens’ rights are trampled on."

He said he was beyond defending the indefensible. "There have to be major overhauls‚ especially when it comes to vetting of crime intelligence officials.

"We have to be seen to be changing things on the ground and not just talking about changes. The statistics show that we should be doing more with what we have‚ but that we are not.

 

"This is unacceptable. We need to look at how we deploy our forces strategically to become more effective."

Gareth Newham‚ ISS crime and justice programme head‚ said the statistics remained seven months out of date and did not reflect the current crime situation.

He said the most disturbing thing about the figures was that the two categories that were the most reliable indicators of violent crime – murder and armed robbery – continued to increase.

"We are now 13% more likely to be murdered than five years ago. Aggravated robbery shows how profound the failures of police leadership have become.

"This is a direct result of political appointments to top police management and inappropriate political interference at all levels of the police."

Newham said that until the recommendations of the National Development Plan were effectively implemented‚ crime would not be effectively dealt with.

"There needs to be proper appointment processes around the national police commissioner and an audit of the abilities of all police managers‚ to remove poorly performing leaders.

"Until these steps are taken‚ it is unlikely that South Africa will see any improvement in the ability of the police to decrease murder and armed robberies‚" he added.

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