Amanda Watson news editor The Citizen obituary

By Amanda Watson

News Editor

Violent crime is ‘a danger to everyone’

What is promising is that there is new leadership in the police, but it will take a while for them to clean up the mess they inherited.

With 57 people being killed each day, and mob justice and gang-related murders leading the pack, coupled with a rise in sexual offences, violent crime was a danger to everyone in the country, the chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on police said yesterday.

Francois Beukman was speaking after the release of the 2017-18 crime statistics.

Lorraine Claasen, crime analyst at AfriForum Research Institute, noted: “There were 20 336 murders reported for the period.” More than 40 000 rape cases were reported.

“There is just no scenario or context where these figures can be disregarded as unimportant or insignificant,” Claasen added.

She noted the increases in murder and attempted murder, with rape and sexual assault statistics seemingly the most problematic and shocking categories.

“Especially the 6.9% increase in murder and the 8.2% increase in sexual assaults reported.

“Unfortunately, contact crimes are largely reacted to after the fact,” Claasen said. “If you add the total figure of the 2017 crimes as reported by the community to the crimes reported as a result of police action, the total is a staggering 2 096 781.”

These were crimes recorded for the 2017-18 financial year, under former president Jacob Zuma and his minister of police, Fikile “Razzmatazz” Mbalula.

The Citizen asked Claasen if it was time to change the way policing was done?

She replied: “Yes, I think so. It is my opinion that the SA Police Service (SAPS), more than anything, needs stability. With every new minister and national police commissioner, a lot of changes are made.

“There might have been strategies that seemed to work, which were halted and/or changed by new management.

“What is extremely necessary at this point is the reinstatement of specialised priority units on a provincial and national level.”

Claasen also suggested there were too many cases for the Hawks to handle on their own. “There are so many experienced SAPS officials who could be utilised for specific units, but who are currently in other ranks or who left the department. We need a long-term solution that is viable for all parties involved.”

This was a call independently echoed by Beukman.

“The committee emphasised the need for a strategic intervention from SAPS, not merely operational or tactical responses,” he said. “As a remedy, the committee has recommended that SAPS management strengthen cluster and station management, especially in the top 30 crime hotspots.

“Strengthening cluster and station management will improve the strategic and tactical intervention in fighting crime, especially contact crime.”

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, according to the Institute for Security Studies’ Dr Johan Burger, who felt there were a number of positives which could be taken from yesterday’s presentation of the latest crime statistics by Minister of Police Bheki Cele.

“What is promising is that we have new leadership in the police and they are all fairly good appointments,” said Burger. “It is going to take a while for them to clean up the mess they inherited so we shouldn’t expect miracles.”

He added that it was refreshing that Cele acknowledged the seriousness of the level of crime as indicated by the statistics.

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