National Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Thursday urged researchers to contribute towards reducing violent crime in South Africa.
Speaking at an Institute for Security Studies Conference in Muldersdrift, Mthethwa said researchers could play a critical role in researching the reasons behind violent crime.
“There are many developing nations with economies bigger or smaller than South Africa which do not have the level of violence that exists in South Africa. We would expect researchers to probe this aspect,” he said.
He said that police also needed to communicate their arrests to the public. The failure of police to communicate their successes also contributed to a poor public perception.
He said the confidence of new recruits needed to be inspired by their commanding officers. Too often, recruits’ enthusiasm for a career in the police was destroyed.
“We want young people to want to become police officers, we do not want their spirits dampened by corrupt police officers.”
He said police still needed to address the issue of policing in rural areas. Police stations tended to be located in cities and towns, leaving rural residents at the mercy of criminals.
He said that a major challenge was to rid the country of illegal firearms.
In the fight against drugs, he said that there needed to be more focus on transnational crimes.
Decline in murders
Police released crime statistics in September, which showed murders declined by 8,6% in 2009 to under 17 000.
“The murder figure fell below the 17 000 mark, compared to 26 877 in the 1995-1996 fiscal year,” said Mthethwa.
“We are really encouraged in the significant decline in the murder rate. Of all crimes this is one category that you cannot cheat,” he said.
The crime statistics report covered the year ending in March, and showed violent crime generally was on the decline, with attempted murders down by 6,1% and sexual offences down by 4,4%, he said.
A total of 26 311 people were arrested connected with sexual crimes.
He said the reintroduction of specialised units such as the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences, would contribute to decreasing this even further.
In the fight against crime 110 police officers lost their lives. It was critical to remove corrupt police officers from the South African Police Service, said Mthethwa.
The overall drop in several crime categories was “satisfactory”, but more needed to be done, he said.
The number of cash-in-transit heists fell 7,3% to 358 for 2009/10, resulting in 52 arrests.
Bank robberies decreased 8,8%, while car and truck hijacking saw a 6,8% decline.
Between 2008 and 2009, there were 14 915 car hijackings, which dropped to 13 902. – Sapa