This morning, not long after waking up, I started updating this website.
One of the first headlines I saw was Northern Cape farm murders: ‘Boys, well done’ say relatives to police.
In the article, a spokesperson for the murdered Brand family congratulates the police on the speedy arrest of five suspects.
(If you have not been following this harrowing tale, be warned, it is horrific.)
Kudos to the police for arresting the suspects. After the murders.
The next headline read Mpumalanga man allegedly rapes teenage boy who tried to help him.
This was followed by Girl, 9, allegedly tied up, raped by 14-year-old cousin in Mpumalanga.
There were quite a few more headlines about armed robbers shot dead by the police, a man going on a shooting rampage in the Eastern Cape, and an update of the Zuurbekom church attacks from a few weeks back.
I sighed. Today was crime stats day.
In the journalistic world, it has traditionally been the only day of the year that we get some sort of glimpse into what is really happening in this country from a crime perspective.
I have covered many of these before and I was quite interested in what the Police Minister Bheki Cele would present.
He did not disappoint, in that it was probably one of the most disappointing crime stats speeches I have ever read. (Click here to read it yourself).
Usually, politicians will try and put some sort of a spin on the stats.
Cele certainly tried, bless him…
“In contact crimes, particularly Murder, we have recorded a trend of halving the case increase in the past three years,” his speech reads.
Cele then goes on to list the difference in the number of murder cases recorded for the last three years.
The numbers are manageable:
- In 2017/18 the case difference was 1320;
- In 2018/19 the cases difference was 686; and
- In 2019/20 we have recorded a case difference of 303.
What the dear minister fails to mention, is the ACTUAL statistics.
So, in case you missed it, here it is: 21,325 murders in the last financial year.
Yes, this might “only” be 1.4% up from the previous year, but let the number just sink in for a minute: twenty one thousand, three hundred and twenty five people were killed in one year.
That equates to 58.25 murders each and every day.
Let’s look at another major crime category that Cele wished to highlight in his speech: residential burglaries.
“…another important category that has recorded a significant decrease is property related crimes, where all crimes under this category indicated a major decrease including burglary at residential premises which has declined by 6.7%.”
Care to guess what the official figure for residential burglary actually is? A total of 205,959 reported cases in a year.
For the record, robberies at residential premises went down 5,8% to a mere 21,130 cases. Boys, well done!
There are some other good news stories that the Minister chose to highlight: Bank robberies fell to zero. From four the previous year.
Really? What is this 1978 and Stander is still running around?
You can access the full statistics by clicking here.
There was a more detailed presentation on the actual trends and stats by the police’s top brass, but the vagueness of Cele’s speech was just astonishing.
The cherry-picked statistics that give no relevance to the heartache, fear, trauma and depression experienced by the countless victims of crime in this country.
In a post lockdown world, I’m actually fearful of next year’s speech.
Not once in his speech did Cele mention how many officers were killed in the line of duty either.
To you, we salute you for your sacrifice!
There are many, many honest police men and women in this country and they are all heroes.
To you, we all say thank you!
Hendri Pelser is the acting digital editor of The Citizen.