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South Africa turning the tide against crime

Samona Murugan & SAnews

Photo caption: Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa, National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega and SA Police Service research task team head Mzwandile Petros at the release of the crime stats

Photo caption: Statistics released show a drop in violent crimes in the national capital.

The rate of contact crime across South Africa has come down significantly, but ordinary people should work more with the police to expose criminal activities in their communities, said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
Speaking at the release of crime statistics for the period from 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2012, Minister Mthethwa expressed confidence that crime is getting under control and vowed to step up efforts to combat the scourge. “We are turning the tide against crime…crime affects all people of our country across class, gender, religion and colour. It is our common enemy and collectively, we shall defeat this scourge.” He said that adopting an eight year approach to crime statistics had helped government to track and depict crime patterns over a longer period. This approach had highlighted a de- crease in contact crime of 29.9% and murder by 27.6% over the past eight years
All provinces over the year under review experienced declines in contact crime, with the exception of the Free State, Limpopo and the Western Cape. Overall, contact crime had come down by 3.5. The seven categories of con- tact crime include murder, attempted murder, sexual offences, assault grievous bodily harm, assault common, aggravated robbery and common robbery. Attempted murder declined by 5.2%, assault grievous bodily harm by 4.2% and common assault by 3.4%.
A total of 15 609 murders were recorded in 2011/12, which is down from 15 940 murders recorded in 2010/11 and equates to a 3.1% drop in the per capita ratio of murders, This refers to the number of murders per person in South Africa over the year.
Gauteng experienced a 7.5% drop in murder cases and also recorded some of the biggest decreases on key crimes – such as sexual crimes, carjacking as well as house and business robberies – but the province still tops the list as the most crime-ridden province.
Minister Mthethwa said research by the police’s Crime Research and Statistics Unit revealed that 65% of murders began as assaults resulting from interpersonal, often alcohol or drug-fuelled, arguments.
In the past year alone, car-hijackings de- creased by 11.9 % and cash-in-transit robberies declined by an impressive 37.5%, indicating that Government’s intensive efforts to combat crime are working.
However, there is still a long way to go before Government as a whole can pat itself on the back. One area of concern is sexual crimes which fell marginally in all provinces except for the Free State, Limpopo and the North West where these cases increased.
Despite an overall decrease of 1.9% in crimes such as rape, this number is unacceptably high, said Minister Mthethwa.
“We need to emphasise that as government we are still concerned about the scourge of rape in our country. More resources and better training of police mechanisms are now being put in place,” Minister Mthethwa added.
This still remains one of the challenging categories to police and is influenced by reporting behaviour. Rape victims still don’t trust police. This means that many incidents of rape still go unreported. This however is not a local, but an international problem as well.
Efforts to address the high number of rape and sexual offences include the re-launching of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit, as well as a working relationship with the judiciary to have such cases prioritised, he said.
Another area of concern was that children were now becoming targets of criminals.
“One of the shifts we have witnessed is that although crimes against women and children are decreasing, we are now seeing a trend where young children are now being targeted and abused. We shall be intensifying the war against the abuse of young children to ensure that this trend is reversed,” Minister Mthethwa said. “There needed to be more awareness among parents and guardians that children needed to be looked after and protected,”
Business robberies were also on an increase, going up by 7.5% with small businesses bearing the brunt of the robberies.
Mthethwa said the police had finalised a strategy to combat and reduce robberies on small businesses, adding that the Civilian Secretariat of Police would be engaging with relevant parties in the coming weeks to ensure the policy is implemented.
Also on the increase is theft out of motor vehicles which increased by 4,8 %, stock theft by 1.5% and drug-related crimes by 15,6%. Commenting on this increase in drug-related crimes, Minister Mthethwa said policing drug-related crimes required a multi-disciplinary approach, as they were related to social problems, and couldn’t be solved by simply sending in the army.
Another worrying trend is drunken driving, which increased by 2.9% in the past year. Against this disturbing increase, Government has welcomed the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to charge drunken drivers who are responsible for causing deaths during car accidents with murder instead of culpable homicide. “We hope this decision will ensure social responsibility among motorists,” said Minister Mthethwa.
Minister Mthethwa said to tackle crime effectively it wasn’t sufficient for police alone to up their efforts, but that the entire criminal justice system – from courts, prosecutors and police – needed to be involved together with community members.
Minister Mthethwa also encouraged officers to fight crime by doing more and talking less. In addition to all efforts made by the police, he urged the public to assist in the fight against crime. “We encourage the public to be whistle- blowers against crime and report crime at all times. “

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