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Police shake-up 'coming soon'

Terrifying crime stats: Minister doesn't even try to whitewash depth of country's descent into criminal anarchy

25 October 2017 - 06:26 By Graeme Hosken
Acting National Commissioner of the South African Police Service‚ Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba. File photo
Acting National Commissioner of the South African Police Service‚ Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba. File photo
Image: Supplied

Death, mayhem and destruction. Rape, sexual assault and pillaging. All on the rise.

Yet acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja 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.

The 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 five years ago.

Murder has risen by 1.8% to 19,016 killings in the 2016-2017 financial year when compared to 2015-2016. That equates to 52 murders a day - five times the global average. Of those killed, 3478 were women or children.

According to police statistics, there are on average 50 attempted murders and 61 home robberies a day. Forty-six vehicles are hijacked daily, and there are 16 aggravated (violent) robberies an hour (386 a day).

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 crime intelligence capabilities.

"It will be expensive but it is steps we have to take. It cannot be business as usual," 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 whereas 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, head of the ISS crime and justice programme, said the statistics released on Tuesday were seven months out of date and did not reflect the current crime situation.

He said the most disturbing aspect of the statistics was that they showed that the two most reliable indicators of the extent of violent crime - the murder and armed robbery rates - 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.

"There needs to be proper appointment processes around the national police commissioner and an audit of the abilities of all police managers to remove [inadequate] leaders.

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


● Rape declined overall by 4.3%. Most rapes occurred in the offender’s or victim’s home, or in a public area. More than 9% of the victims were under the age of nine.

Half of the suspects had consumed alcohol and more than 11% had used drugs.

Bianca Capazorio


● At least 18 of the 52 murders a day are shootings, said Gun Free SA. It estimated that “between 35% and 40% of murders in 2016-2017 were committed using a gun; that’s 18 to 21 gun-related murders a day”.

The Medical Research Council said themurder rate dropped between 2000 and 2010 because of stricter gun laws.

The trend started to reverse in 2012.

Gun Free SA said a “breakdown” of the firearms control management system since 2012 had led to fraud and corruptionin the licensing of guns.

Nico Gous


● More than half of all armed robberies are street robberies‚ with 79,878 recorded in the 12 months to March 31, an increase of about 5% on the previous year.

“Every day an average of 219 cases of street robbery were reported‚” the Institute for Security Studies said.

Staff reporter

Busiest police stations

● Most crimes were reported at police stations in the Western Cape and Gauteng.

Cape Town Central‚ Johannesburg Central and Mitchells Plain are the busiest police stations.

The rest of the top 10 are Honeydew‚ Durban Central‚ Park Road in Bloemfontein‚ Hillbrow‚ Witbank‚ Stellenbosch and Pretoria Central.

Nico Gous