Friday, 19 February 2021

Pretoria: The South African Police Service (SAPS) management will urgently execute a turnaround plan in four of the country’s provinces with worryingly high crime rates.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, who released the 2020/21 third quarter crime statistics on Friday, said regressions were recorded in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and the Western Cape provinces.

These four provinces recorded an over 10% increase in the crime of murder.

Despite this, some of provinces, with the Eastern Cape in the lead, have shown significant progress in their crime fighting efforts.

“As the Police Ministry and police management, we have taken a decision to have operational oversight in the four provinces and monitor them closely. We expect a turnaround plan to be adopted, and executed urgently and effectively.

“We must all have sleepless nights over these crime numbers. We must exert ourselves in the quest to deliver our mandate as the SAPS, which is to protect and serve the people of this country,” said Cele.

This, he said, is a matter of life and death, and as such, “complacency will not be tolerated”.

Despite a marked rise in crime incidents in the last three months of 2020, Cele has urged law enforcement and the public at large to do more to protect citizens.

“In spite of the bleak situation and also being in the midst of a pandemic, we must and we will do more to turn this crime picture around,” said the Minister.

Failure to do so must result in consequences, he said.

Murder

During the three-month reporting period, a 6.6 % increase in murder was recorded.

This means 389 more people were killed compared to the corresponding period in the previous financial year.

Cele said Mpumalanga recorded a 13.7% increase in murder — the highest in the country.

“Limpopo, the North West and Northern Cape provinces recorded a decline in their murder cases. About 193 of the murders were as a result of domestic violence,” said the Minister.

The top four factors in the murder cases were arguments, robberies at a household and businesses, mob justice incidents and gang-related killings.

A total of 2 481 people were murdered in public places including the streets, open field, parking areas and abandoned buildings.

A total of 1 643 murders occurred at home.

Liquor outlets were the third most likely place for victims to be killed in South Africa.

“Overall, contact crimes committed against persons decreased by 1.4%,” said the Minister.

The statistics, Cele said, expose some gaps that exist in policing certain crime categories.

“They also lay bare some of the policing shortcomings experienced in certain provinces,” Cele said.

He conceded that the statistics do not paint a good picture, and “force us to dig deep and put shoulder to the wheel”.

Between October and December, 19 people were killed in 18 incidents of murder on farms and small holdings. While most of the people died at the hands of criminals, some were killed by farm owners or farm managers.

Moreover, 50 124 cases of assault were reported. Cele reiterated that many assault incidents were fuelled and aggravated by alcohol abuse.

Sex crimes

Turning his attention to sexual crimes, Cele said the country recorded a 5% increase in this regard.

Just over 12 210 people were raped between October and December last year.

This is an increase of 181 cases, amounting to a 1.5% increase compared to the previous reporting period.

Over 4 900 of the rape incidents took place at the home of the victim or the home of the rapist.

Exactly 570 of these were domestic violence related. Of these, 547 involved rape cases against women, with 23 of the victims being male.

Inanda and Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape’s Lusikisiki police stations recorded the highest incidents of rape.

Cele assured the country that SAPS stations are not experiencing a shortage of evidence collection kits. This comes after claims that 76% of the country’s police stations were experiencing a shortage.

Cele said the three-year contract entered into with a supplier of the kits is still in place.

“The availability of the ‘rape kits’ at all provinces is confirmed on a weekly basis and replenishment is done as per the stations’ request,” he said.

Gender-based violence (GBV), Cele said, remains a priority crime for the SAPS.

“We are on a daily basis improving our services and responses at station level.”

During the reporting period, the SAPS Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units (FCS) secured 129 life sentences.

“I really hope these jail terms also reassure victims of GBV of our efforts as law enforcement to bring them justice,” said the Minister.

Trio crimes

Aggravated robberies such as carjacking increased by 7%, with 77 more residential robberies in the months of October to December 2020.

Cele said there were 374 less business robberies during this reporting period.

All property related crimes decreased by 15.8%.

In the three months, stock theft decreased by 6.9%, while vehicles theft declined by over 20%.

COVID-19 impact

Cele said 27 000 members contracted COVID-19, with 570 deaths.

Over 25 000 police members have recovered and are back at work.