Stats a mixed bag

The area covered by the Ocean View police station has been shown to be the least safe in the annual crime statistics released by SAPS, if murders are used as a basis.

Last week the police released statistics for crimes reported for the year ending in March 2016. Ocean View police station, which is responsible for Masiphumelele, Ocean View and Kommetjie, had 41 reported murders, almost one a week (0.8). This is up 58% on the 26 murders reported for the previous year (ending March 2014).

Fish Hoek ended its enviably good run as the safest place to be with two murders (with previous years having none) and Simon’s Town again had one murder reported. Muizenberg’s reported murders were 27, down from 29 the previous year.

Muizenberg’s precinct is large – besides Sector 3 which is part of the Echo readership area (Lakeside and Marina da Gama to Kalk Bay), its other two sectors cover the area south of Military Road and heads eastwards across Vrygrond and Overcome Heights towards Strandfontein. So the fact that Ocean View SAPS’s reported murder rate was higher than Muizenberg’s is significant.

Nonetheless it is difficult to work out just how significant as the crime statistics are the bare basics and don’t give useful means for comparison such as crime stats per 1 000 people, or number of visible police and detectives per 1 000 people.

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“I am sceptical about crime statistics,” said Muizenberg Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson Frank Bokhorst.

“The statistics reflect only what is reported. Most people find it a hassle to report crime – they are either reluctant or feel intimidated or they feel the police are not going to do anything. We encourage people to report crime.

“I am more concerned with the relationship with the public and the police than with actual crime levels,” he said.

He said there was a massive problem about under-resourcing in the whole cluster – from Mowbray southwards.

Muizenberg had had 50 students training at their police station who were recently placed elsewhere when their training was completed.

Ocean View CPF chairperson Kathy Cronje also finds the statistics of limited use.

“My biggest issue is that not everything is reported so crime statistics mean nothing – but they are improving,” she said.

“We need to build a bridge between the public and SAPS. SAPS is the only police force we have, so we need to work with them. Theoretically, if there is no crime, we would not need resources. So if we are not reporting crime – apart from everything else involved – we will not get the resources required to combat crimes,” she said, adding: “Even if it feels futile.”

“Its high time that the Minister of Police and National Police Commissioner start providing the effective and efficient police service our Constitution stipulates and protect the right to safe and free living within our beautiful community,” commented Fish Hoek CPF chairperson Andre Blom, looking at the crime stats.

The Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, reported that, nationally, there had been a decline in almost all categories of crime except for contact crimes, which includes murder, assault and robbery.

He said car hijackings had shown the biggest increase during the past decade with the national number of 14 602 reported hijackings showing the highest upward trend of the past decade.

The police stations in our area follow this trend to some extent. In the Muizenberg SAPS area, 15 cars were reported hijacked (up from 12); one car was hijacked in the Ocean View SAPS area (compared to five); three in Simon’s Town (which covers greater Glencairn through to Cape Point, Redhill and over to Scarborough); and no cars were hijacked in Fish Hoek (which includes Clovelly, greater Fish Hoek through Sunnydale and Noordhoek), compared to one last year.

Muizenberg showed an increase in reported robberies. Common robberies (some violence but without a weapon) increased to 175 for the year compared to 118, and aggravated robbery (robbery with a weapon) increased from 226 to 288 for the year. Ocean View showed a decline in robberies (60 to 52 common robberies and 93 to 75 aggravated robberies); Simon’s Town showed a decrease in common robberies from 17 to five but an increase in aggravated robbery from 10 to 16; and Fish Hoek showed a decrease in common robberies from 43 to 33 but an increase in aggravated robbery from 42 to 49.

National trends showed an increase in house robberies, where residents are violently robbed while they are in their homes. Fish Hoek showed the biggest increase in house robberies, from eight cases to 17 reported cases; Muizenberg increased from 20 to 27. Simon’s Town decreased from four to three and Ocean View from six to two.

Property crimes are usually the biggest concerns for these police stations – burglaries, thefts – and Ocean View showed the biggest percentage increase of 55% with 49 to 76 burglaries, but in terms of numbers of cases, the other police stations had far more, with Muizenberg reporting 610 cases (almost two a day), which was a decrease of 10% from 679 of the previous year; Fish Hoek reported an increase of 13.9%, increasing from 350 to 401 (a bit more than one a day); and Simon’s Town had a small increase from 242 cases reported for the year to 253.

Theft of motor vehicles and motor cycles have usually been a feature of this area but in all police stations, reported thefts were down or stayed the same. Muizenberg had 146 vehicle thefts reported (the same as the previous year); Ocean View had 27 (down from 34); Simon’s Town had 19 (down from 28) and Fish Hoek had 83 (down from 97).

“The statistics show an increase in more violent types of robbery which is a reflection on the economy and people finding it harder to make an honest living. Social issue will also be increasing, therefore more visible policing and pro-active patrolling is required yet SAPS remain seriously understaffed and it will be very difficult to curb these crimes,” said Mr Blom.

“SAPS will be relying heavily on the neighbourhood watches in our community to support and work with them. The community of Fish Hoek can be very thankful that we have such a fantastic operational neighbourhood watch system. The more community members who join their respective watches will assist the valley to become the number one safest town in SA again.”