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Crime in South Africa - rejoinder II

Recently I wrote about crime in SA (article titled "As good as it gets") and suggested crime was everything but "under control", as the SA government suggested.

Yesterday government released the latest crime statistics and I'll let you read this article from the M&G (published today on the website) so you can decide for yourself what the true state of affairs is....


The latest crime statistics released on Tuesday prove crime is out of control despite government assurances to the contrary, opposition parties said.

"We are alarmed at the increase in murder [2,4%], the 118% increase in bank robberies, 52,5% increase in robberies at business premises, the 21,9% increase in cash-in-transit heists and the sharp increase in robberies at residential premises [25,4%]," Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) spokesperson Velaphi Ndlovu said in a statement.

"It once again proves without doubt that crime is out of control in South Africa and that the levels of crime remain alarmingly high, despite empty government promises," he said.

The IFP believed it again highlighted the need for increased visible policing at banks, business premises, shopping malls and within residential areas.

Dianne Kohler-Barnard of the Democratic Alliance (DA) said the figures made a mockery of Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula's assurances to foreign business that the crime rate was under control.

There had been some reported decreases, such as attempted murder (3%), rape (5,2%) and indecent assault (5,5%), but because the absolute figures were not yet available, actual performance to previous years could not be compared, she said.

What also needed to be taken into account was that many of the categories indicating decreases were crimes where the victim might be strongly influenced not to report due to risks of secondary trauma, inadequate victim support and lack of victim-friendly processes.

"This is especially true for sexual offences."

"It is crucial to remember that what we are looking at is not actually the crime rate, but the reporting rate.

"At least one third of crimes are not reported, and these unreported crimes are most likely to be the personally devastating crimes such as rape and indecent assault," Kohler-Barnard said.

AfriForum, the human rights arm of the trade union Solidarity, meanwhile, called on Nqakula to resign.

This was following the stats, which showed crime was "spiralling out of control", said AfriForum chief executive Alana Bailey.

The Freedom Front Plus's Pieter Mulder agreed the statistics confirmed the public's view that crime was increasing and getting out of control.

"These statistics make South Africa an unsafe country to live in."

The increase in robberies at residential properties, murder, robberies with aggravated circumstances, and carjackings were especially upsetting.

The world average for murder was five per 100 000 of the population, but in South Africa it was 40,5 per 100 000 -- eight times the world average.

"In spite of this [Nqakula] says that crime is under control and the outlook appears to be rosy.

"As long as the minister stays in this state of denial, crime will not be properly combated," Groenewald said.

Casper Nordier of the African Christian Democratic Party called for urgent action.

"Not a report to be proud of. Not a report to defend, with well-chosen words, but a reality that needs drastic measures to intervene in the situation, such as a state of emergency," he said.

Patricia de Lille of the Independent Democrats also lamented the statistics, saying citizens did not feel safe anywhere in the country.

Dr Johan Burger, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, told the Mail & Guardian Online on Tuesday that while the figures were in line with expectations, the increase in violent crimes -- most of which had consistently decreased over the last 13 years -- was particularly disturbing.

He said that aggravated robbery, which showed a positive downward trend from a high in 2003, seems also to have taken a turn for the worse.

Robberies at business premises increased by 52,5% and robberies at residential premises increased by 25,4%.

Burger said the increase in house robberies was one of the "most serious as far as people's perceptions are concerned".

"This is one of the worrying factors -- criminals now change their focus and stand to gain more when people are there. They have access to their safes, bank cards, PIN numbers, all sorts of things. This [type of crime] goes hand in hand with serious assault as they force people to share information."

"One of the problems we have in this country and in many other parts of the world is looking at simplistic answers [to the crime rate].

"Crime is a very complicated business. It's caused by greed in some cases and by socio-economic conditions in other cases. And then there's this very simplistic idea: if you solve the problems in the criminal justice system crime will go away. That's not going to happen.

"This should be a wake-up call for the government. They will have to have a complete rethink on how they approach crime in this country. They spend a lot on the criminal justice system, but they have to identify the problems associated the socio-economic factors. They need an integrated approach."

World Cup

Meanwhile, Nqakula said on Tuesday he did not understand why crime was being linked to the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

"If there is a major threat against this tournament, tell us, we want to deal with it. Is there going to be a bomb that is going to go off at the stadium?"

Speaking at the release of the crime statistics, Nqakula said that South Africa had successfully hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1994, when crime levels were much higher.

Police National Commissioner Jackie Selebi said that he was not lying awake every night "with 2010 on my forehead".

He said the destinations, routes and hotels to be used would be known.

"We know where people are going to stay, what routes they are going to take and which stadiums they are going to go to."

Nqakula said that aggravated robberies have had a devastating effect on the psyche of the nation.

Armed robbery increased by 4,6%, with the biggest proportion (72,7%) street robberies, where dangerous weapons were used, the police report shows.

"Given that those robberies are accompanied by bloodletting where heavy calibre firearms are used by organised criminal gangs and that innocent bystanders are often caught in the cross-fire, and the fact that these incidents happen in broad daylight, on our roads and streets and around banks and shopping malls, they've had a devastating effect on the psyche of the nation."

Nqakula also said that a study was under way to determine why two thirds of all serious and violent crimes happened between people who knew each other and why there was so much violent crime in South Africa.

End of quote (and of my faith in government's ability to handle this problem).
4.7.07 11:14



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