Stats raise questions

According to crime statistics from April 2014 to March 2015, Fish Hoek was rated as the safest town to live, in the Western Cape but two years later, the small village has seen a noticeable increase in crime.

The annual national crime statistics, released on Tuesday last week, indicated that almost a quarter of all crimes reported in South Africa occurred in the Western Cape.

And while this might be the case, Fish Hoek Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman, Andre Blom, believes statistics recorded at individual police stations might not give a true reflection of crime in the area as many crimes, especially crimes related to sexual offences, are not reported.

According to statistics from April 2016 to March 2017 for the Fish Hoek police station, sexual offences have decreased by 66.7 percent with a 23.1 percent decrease in assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and a 42.9 percent decrease in robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Statistics also indicate that robbery at residential premises has decreased by 58.8 percent while burglary at residential premises, theft out of a motor vehicle, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs have increased.

But Mr Blom disagrees with some of the statistics. According to statistics collected (and combined with the latest national statistics) by the CPF, Mr Blom said there has been a definite increase of violent crimes in the Fish Hoek valley which is very worrying.

According to him, robbery at residential premises has increased by more than double compared to last year and he attributes this to negative social behaviour, unemployment and the increase in illegal substances.

He says the justice system also fails miserably when it comes to handing down effective sentences. But the most disturbing statistic is an increase of almost 300 percent in sexual assaults which include men and women. “These crimes can be attributed to social pressure, misbehaviour and the downward trend of tougher economic times,” he said.

Mr Blom attributes the increase in Fish Hoek’s crime statistics to the various challenges faced by SAPS but also the lack of support and effective solutions that welfare and social departments are supposed to provide. “While violent crimes are increasing day by day, Fish Hoek police station remains and continues to be severely understaffed, he said.

He also points out that there is a serious lack of resources such as vehicles and no maintenance on vehicles.

He believes that all these aspects allows crime to increase in the valley and believes that Fish Hoek is forever overlooked when it comes to providing resources as it is deemed a lower crime area as opposed to other areas.

“Our police station and staff are trying their utmost to deliver the best service they can with the scarce resources to their disposal and at times work miracles. Through the CPF and neighbourhood watch (NHW) we have built an excellent cooperative working relationship with the SAPS that combats crime as far as possible,” he said.

Fish Hoek police spokesman, Warrant Officer Peter Middelton said increases in crime statistics are always a concern and for some, there is a simple reason for the increase while others are more complicated.

He said assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm is generally a very low crime category in Fish Hoek as many such cases are opened by visitors who do not reside in Fish Hoek and are just passing through.

“Another contributor to the increase is that many such cases have both parties opening cases,” he said.

He said burglary is one of the greatest contributors to the Fish Hoek SAPS policing area due to the fact that the area in question is predominately a residential area.

“This adds to the theft of or out of motor vehicles which is property crimes which is the bulk of the reported crimes in this area,” he said.

He said driving under the influence cases, which increased by 77.5 percent are mostly generated by means of road blocks and these are performed by various law enforcement units and it’s an indication when a single roadblock can yield 26 arrests such as Friday October 13 in the Main Road.

He added that drug-related crimes, which showed a decrease of 2.3 percent, is always a concern as society turns a blind eye to such activities, meaning it goes unreported.

“All drug activity is a contributor to the break down in the moral fibre of society,” he said.

In Muizenberg, there was a 7.4 percent decrease in murder, a 19.1 percent decrease in assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, and 30.7 percent decrease in burglary at residential premises.

Crimes that showed an increase included robbery with aggravating circumstances, contact sexual offences, carjacking, robbery at residential premises, theft out of a motor vehicle, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, drug-related crimes and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Muizenberg police spokesman, Captain Stephen Knapp said the 8.6 percent increase in various categories of aggravated robberies, which include carjacking, cash-in-transit robberies and house robberies are a concern.

“With high increased visibility and a more focused policing approach, Muizenberg SAPS aim to tackle this problem.”He said successes obtained by Muizenberg SAPS was an overall reduction in property-related crimes of 13.5%, which included burglaries at residential premises and theft of motor vehicle.

He said although there was an increase in possession of firearms and ammunition, 13 arrests were made for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition compared to nine for the previous year and 496 arrests were made for drug-related crimes compared to 471 for 2016.

Mr Knapp said the Muizenberg policing precinct is an area that is continuously increasing in population and although hampered by resources, its members are still able to reduce most crime categories. “The crime statistics are a remarkable reflection of the dedication and hard work by the members of Muizenberg SAPS. It must, however, be remembered that many of these successes achieved are as a result of partnerships and alliances with various community organisations. These partnerships, in particular those with NHWs and security companies, are vitally important in our ongoing endeavours to reduce crime. Muizenberg SAPS are hoping to increase these partnerships and with a well-functioning CPF, believe they can achieve these objectives,” he said.

In Ocean View, despite a surge of gang-related murders in the past year, statistics show a 29.3 percent decrease in the murder rate. However, there was a 45 percent increase in attempted murder and 7.8 percent increase in assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and a 34.7 percent increase of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition increased by 214.3 percent while drug-related crimes increased by 59.3 percent and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol increased by 316.7 percent. The most noticeable increase was theft out of a motor vehicle which decreased with 15.5 percent and sexual offences and rape that showed a combined decrease of 18.9 percent.

Ocean View Station Commander, Lieutenant Colonel, Errol Merkeur said arrests for possession of drugs have increased due to deployments of local members as well as external role players like the Metro police . “The drug problem is a societal challenge. People resort to drugs due to a number of reasons like disappointments in life and unemployment, he said.

He added that other government departments like Social Development should also assist in this regard.

He said since MEC for safety and security, Dan Plato’s visit five weeks ago, more resources, like the deployment of the stabilisation unit twice a week, are available in the area. “Metro police, Traffic and Law Enforcement are also deploying members and we have strong patrollers from the community groups like the neighbourhood watches, he said.

In Simon’s Town there was an increase of 225 percent for sexual offences, a 21.2 percent increase in assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm and a 62.5 percent in robbery with aggravating circumstances. Rape and sexual assault indicated a slight increase while the most noticeable decreases were burglary at residential premises with 22.5 percent, theft out of a motor vehicle by 43.3 percent possession of illegal firearms and ammunition by 40 percent and drug-related crimes by 42.2 percent.

Station Commander, Captain Japhta said he was not authorised to speak to the media and referred the Echo to the Provincial office for comment. Community Police Forum chairwoman, Eileen Heywood said the assaults have been fairly random and not part of any trend and more like a pub altercation, dispute over trading licence, domestics and so on.

She said the downturn in burglaries and drug-related crimes could be the result of a new holistic approach the CPF are taking to crime which involves better communication and cooperation between all patrolling and law enforcement bodies to include SAPS, Law Enforcement, Metro Police, Traffic, Security Companies and the Neighbourhood Watches who are now meeting and communicating on a regular basis.