Crime stats data collection not aligned with realities facing communities: Popcru

23 August 2023 - 13:36
By Phathu Luvhengo
Popcru says several serious underlying issues and flaws in crime statistics data collection methodologies must be addressed. File photo.
Image: GARETH WILSON Popcru says several serious underlying issues and flaws in crime statistics data collection methodologies must be addressed. File photo.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) doesn’t believe police quarterly crime statistics provide an accurate account of crime trends. 

The union’s president Zizamele Cebekhulu-Makhaza said the figures are not aligned with the realities facing their members and communities — and the situation may be even worse than indicated.  

Cebekhulu-Makhaza opened this year’s three-day policing indaba in Boksburg on Wednesday. Under the theme "Building Ideal Policing and Corrections for the 21st Century", the indaba is intended to reshape the landscape of law enforcement.  

He said the first question to be asked was whether South Africa’s police service was failing in the fight against crime. He said the latest quarterly crime stats released by minister Bheki Cele paint a bloody picture of violence. 

Cebekhulu-Makhaza said there are several serious underlying issues and flaws in the data collection methodologies that must be addressed, such as inaccurate data collated from each province and department, the underreporting of crimes, and variances in the interpretation and classification of crimes, which together may have resulted in significant discrepancies. 

He said despite the flaws, statistics are important tools that enable law enforcement agencies to better perform budgetary formulations, planning and the allocation of resources and police operations.  

"Accurate and transparent statistics are therefore vital to facilitating evidence-based decision-making within the justice system, ensuring  government implements more effective, targeted interventions to combat crime."

He said it is time for a thorough review of the figures and for discussions to rectify the discrepancies to better represent the true state of the country’s crime situation. 

Cebekhulu-Makhaza noted police killings continue unabated and said they seek to develop plans to strengthen relationships between police and communities.

"As a result, we submit the proposed 24-month sentence attached to the offence of obstructing police officers in the execution of their duties is too lenient and will not in any way deter criminals from killing our members," he said.  

Cebekhulu-Makhaza said as many as 31 police officers were murdered between April and June this year, or one officer every three days. He said these statistics are unacceptable.  

He said the police are performing the critical work of enforcing the rule of law and a threat to the safety of police members is a threat to the safety of all South Africans.

"Killings and any form of attack on our law enforcement officers must therefore be declared as treason and legislative amendments must be made in this regard.

"We further submit that a meagre R250,000 payout or death grant for police officers must be revised proportionately to honour those who have perished in the line of duty. These are the individuals who have placed their lives on the line every day to make South Africa safer for our communities," he said. 

Cebekhulu-Makhaza said it was disheartening to acknowledge the disparity provincial traffic officers face when it comes to death benefits.  

"Unlike their counterparts in the police and correctional services, these dedicated officers are denied the same financial support their colleagues receive in the event of a tragic loss of life. This is a grave injustice."

He said urgent measures are needed to better protect law enforcement members, both on and off duty.  

"The police safety strategy plan must be improved, and security measures intensified at all police stations to protect our members, including the installation of surveillance cameras. The state should further equip police with better training in community management to improve our community relations."