Violent crime on the up

Minister of Police Bheki Cele. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

The nationwide increase in violent crime, seen in the latest crime statistics, is mirrored in far south police precincts.

Police Minister Bheki Cele released the latest stats on Tuesday September 11. Tracking the period from April 1 last year to March this year, they paint a grim picture of crime in South Africa, with 20 336 murders reported – a 6% hike in the country’s murder rate.

In Fish Hoek, the murder rate increased 300%, from one case last year to four this year.

Attempted murder is up 166.7%, four cases higher than last year, when there were none.

Robbery with aggravating circumstances rose 153.6%, from 28 to 71 cases.

Fish Community Police Forum chairman Andre Blom said the rise in contact crime was alarming as Fish Hoek had traditionally seen mostly property-related crime.

It was good to see a drop in burglaries, especially those at homes – the stats show home burglaries dropped from 500 to 487 cases – but the 228.6% increase in home robberies (from seven to 23 cases) was disturbing.

Sexual offences also spiked, with a 166.7% increase, from six cases to 16. “Despite limited resources, the Fish Hoek police has performed well throughout the year,” Mr Blom said. “They have made some good arrests and, together with neighbouring stations, have, for now, managed to put a stop to the spate of house robberies that were taking place in the valley.”

He added that the crime stats only showed those crimes that had been reported and said in many cases, victims do not report crimes due to various reasons such as fearing victimisation, not trusting the police or judicial system.

“This “paints a rosier image” of actual crime statistics and SAPS will therefore not deploy more resources to the valley.

In Muizenberg, there was a spike in contact crimes. Murder is up 24%, from 25 cases to 31. Attempted murder rose 150%, from 20 cases to 50.

Robbery with aggravating circumstances climbed 10.6%, from 293 to 324 cases.

Assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm (GBH) is up 7.1%, from 127 to 136 cases.

Burglaries at home rose 3.3%, from 423 to 437 cases. Vehicle theft is up 8.5%, from 141 to 153 cases.

Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition is up 253.8%, from 13 to 46 cases, and drug-related crime increased 49.6%, from 496 to 742 cases.

The sexual offences category – including crimes like rape and sexual assault – dropped 18.8%.

Muizenberg police spokesman, Captain Stephen Knapp, said most of the murders were due to ongoing gang violence, along with the abuse of alcohol and drugs, especially in Seawinds and surrounds.

“Muizenberg is an area which has increased in size and population, and its precinct is a diverse socio-economic community, where poverty, unemployment and economic hardship are a fact of life. This coupled with the abuse of alcohol and drugs, is a contributing factor to the crime statistics but Muizenberg SAPS remains committed to their duties of reducing crime,” he said.

According to the statistics, 83% of all gang-related murders in South Africa happen in the Western Cape – and Ocean View can account for some of those killings: 29 murders were reported in the neighbourhood, a figure unchanged from the previous reporting period.

And with gang violence having claimed several lives there in recent months, the murder toll is unlikely to look much rosier when next year’s crime statistics are released (“Mothers bury their sons,” Echo July 12).

Attempted murder in Ocean View is up 37.9%, from 29 to 40 cases. Assault GBH is down 16.3%, from 263 to 220 cases. .

Robbery with aggravating circumstances is up 44.6%, from 101 to 146 cases.

Home robberies are up 200%, from five to 15 cases, while home burglaries are down 4.4%,

from 250 to 239 cases.

Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition is down 22.7%, from 22 cases to 17, and drug-related crime dropped 5.3%, from 583 cases to 552.

CPF chairwoman Kathy Cronje said although the murder rate had remained static, it was still alarmingly high.

The increase in attempted murders indicated that gang-related activities were higher.

In Simon’s Town, the murder rate increased by two cases compared to zero last year, and attempted murder remained the same at two cases.

Assault GBH is down 37.5% and robbery with aggravating circumstances is up 15.4%, from 26 to 30 cases..

Sexual offences dropped 69.2%, from 13 to four cases. Home robberies increased by 33.3%, from nine to 12 cases, and home burglaries, dropped by 9.2%, from 196 to 178 cases.

Simon’s Town CPF chairwoman Eileen Heywood said the Simon’s Town’s crime rate remained one of the lowest in the city, which she attributed to a good relationship between the CPF and SAPS.

Renford Brand, an independent security consultant in Fish Hoek, said he believed a lack of crime intelligence was the primary reason for the escalation in serious crime in South Africa and locally.

“Millions are often spent by businesses, developers and homeowners on state-of-the-art security systems, only to find that the systems were breached by an inside job aided by the criminals own intelligence network.”

He said the police had a responsibility to develop sound crime intelligence networks to stay one step ahead of the criminals.

“ One needs to stay one jump ahead of the criminal, be cleverer and prepared,” he said.