While challenges with certain categories of crime remain, South Africa’s police have a firm handle on crime, says National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega.
“Police are in control. The fact that we arrested 1,7 million people in the past year alone says a lot. Policing is a highly controlled environment with clear standing orders.
“Yes, mistakes are made but they tend to be the ones that are flagged by the media,” said Phiyega following the release of 2013/14 crime statistics last month.
The statistics, which cover the period from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014, showed that murder is up by 5 per cent, with an additional 809 murders.
The Western Cape showed the highest increase in murders by 12,8 per cent, from 2 580 in 2012/13 to 2 909 in 2013/14, followed by Gauteng by 11,2 per cent, from 2 997 in 2012/13 to 3 333 in 2013/14.
The third highest province in cases of murder was the Northern Cape with a record of 6,3 per cent, from 412 in 2012/13 to 438 in 2013/14.
The statistics also showed that sexual offences have decreased by 5,6 per cent from 2012/13 to 2013/14.
The decrease was recorded in all nine provinces, with the North West leading with a 12,2 per cent decrease, from 5 521 in 2012/13 to 4 850 in 2013/14.
Gauteng showed a decrease of 10,3 per cent from 12 288 in 2012/13 to 11 021 in 2013/14, followed by Free State with 8,3 per cent from 5 252 in 2012/13 to 4 814 in 2013/14.
In addition, home robbery was up 7,4 per cent, with 1 334 more cases than the previous year.Business robbery was up by 13,7 per cent with 2 238 more attacks, and car hijacking up by 12,3 per cent with 1 231 more attacks than the previous year.
Business robbery was up by 13,7 per cent with 2 238 more attacks, and car hijacking up by 12,3 per cent with 1 231 more attacks than the previous year.
Theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles in KwaZulu-Natal decreased by 10,9 per cent, from 9 788 in 2012/13 as compared to 8 723 in 2013/14.
Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko said crime statistics were all about numbers and how research was conducted.
“The problem with how South Africans deal with crime statistics is that the debate has degenerated to being about numbers and research methodology. Energy needs to be diverted towards what is it that needs to be done to improve levels of safety as a country.
“This is the major point that needs to be looked into. The important thing is can a ordinary South African walk down the street any time of the day and still feel safe?”
He said the crime statistics were audited by the Auditor-General, working in conjunction with Statistics South Africa.
This, Minister Nhleko said, was done to address concerns about the reliability of the statistics, which were raised last year.
He said when levels of poverty and unemployment were high, crime statistics were bound to rise.
He also attributed this to the high social unrest as well as drug abuse in communities.
“The prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse in South Africa is very concerning. In most areas of our communities, we find more taverns than schools and churches combined,” he said, adding that a broader solution needs to be found.
"There is a need to regenerate the morality in our society, which will help us in the fight against crime."
Currently, South Africa has one police officer for every 346 South Africans.
"All of us need to make a contribution in reducing crime and fighting corruption in our communities," said Minister Nhleko.
He added that sexual offences still needed to be tackled by all responsible citizens of South Africa.
“The decrease in sexual offences crime does not suggest that no incidents of rape were occurring, they still do exist.”
He added that contact crimes were prevalent in society and there were high levels of violence and aggression, which was a serious concern.
He said in line with the National Development Plan, the focus would be on strengthening the criminal justice system, professionalising the police as well as building safety.
Written by Noluthando Mkhize and SA News