#CrimeStats: Cele says police ‘dropped the ball’

'Our emphasis should be on what should be done and not on the crime stats,' Minister of Police Bheki Cele told Parliament. (David Harrison/M&G)

'Our emphasis should be on what should be done and not on the crime stats,' Minister of Police Bheki Cele told Parliament. (David Harrison/M&G)

The South African Police Service recorded over 1.5-million community-reported serious crimes in the period of April 1 2017 to 31 March 2018, Major General Norman Sekhukhune, head of police crime research and statistics, announced on Tuesday morning in Parliament.

Of that figure, 20 336 were murders — a 6.9% increase from the previous year.

According to Minister of Police Bheki Cele, the figure amounted to an average of 57 South Africans killed on a daily basis.

He admitted in Parliament on Tuesday that the police had “dropped the ball”.

Serious crimes are divided into contact crimes (murder, sexual and common assault, robbery), contact-related crimes (arson and malicious damage to property), and property related crimes (burglary and theft).

Portfolio committee on police chairperson Francois Beukman said: “The murder increase of 6.9% is really alarming and totally unacceptable ... violent crime is indeed a clear and present danger to all South Africans.”

Murder rates in the provinces

Gauteng had the most reported murders, with a total of 4 233 in the period between 2017/18 (up from 4 101 the previous year). The province also reported the most incidents of taxi-related murders and mob justice murders in the country.

KwaZulu-Natal reported 4 382 murders (an increase from 4 014 the previous year) and the Eastern Cape increased to 3 815 from 3 628 the previous year.

The Western Cape and Free State also reported an increase to 3 729 murders (up from 3 311), and 1 054 murders (up from 950) respectively.

Limpopo reported an increase of murder incidents from 813 incidents last year to 911; while the North West reported and increase from 901 incidents of murder to 950.

The numbers were lower in Mpumalanga at 922 (down from 954 last year).

The province with the least amount of murders was the Northern Cape at 340, a decrease from last year’s 344.

According to Sekhukhune, the Western Cape had the most instances of multiple murders - when more than one person is killed at the same time. The majority of these were connected to gang-activities. He said that there were 808 gang-related murders in the Western Cape compared to 87 in the Eastern Cape.

Sekhukhune said that seven of the 10 police stations that report the highest number of murder cases are found in the Western Cape.

According to Sekhukhune, firearms were used in almost half of all the incidents of murder reported, followed by knives, sharp instruments, stones/bricks and hands.

He added that one firearm, in some cases, was used to commit multiple murders.

Murder of women and children

The number of women and children who were murdered in 2017/2018 has increased by 291 and 146 respectively from the previous year.

Sekhukhune told Parliament that 2930 women were killed (an increase of 291).  Two-hundred-and-ninety-four girls and 691 boys were murdered.

The number of cases of sexual offence against women decreased to 36 731 from the previous year of 37 392. The number of reported sexual offence cases against children also decreased. This year, 23 488 cases were reported compared to last years figure of 24 677.

Sexual offences, as defined by the SAPS, include “sex without consent, unwanted sexual touching, or being forced to engaging in humiliating sexual acts”.

Farm Murders

Sekhukhune said there were 62 reported crimes that were categorised as farm murders. Of the 62: 12 were reported in Gauteng, nine each in Limpopo and North West, eight each in Mpumalanga and the Free State, seven in KwaZulu-Natal, and three each in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Western Cape provinces.

In the 2016/2017 period, a total of 74 farm murders were recorded.

In 2017/2018, Sekhukhune said there were 33 incidents of robbery, six incidents of attempted murder, two incidents of rape, two incidents of stock-theft and one incident of robbery with a firearm, carjacking and kidnapping on farms and small holdings.

The SAPS defines farm murders and attacks as “acts of violence against persons residing on, working on or visiting farms and smallholdings with the intent to murder, rape, rob or inflict bodily harm.”

Cash in transit

Cash in transit heists have increased in the last three financial years. There were 137 cases in 2015/16, 152 cases in 2016/17 and 238 in 2017/18, said Sekhukhune. This is an increase of 56.6% from last year.

He said the highest reported incidents of cash-in-transit heists are in Gauteng with 80 and KwaZulu-Natal with 30.

During Tuesday’s briefing, Sekhukhune said that most incidents of cash-in-transit crimes occured between 8am and midday on Mondays and Saturdays in business areas, spaza shops and malls.

In 57 of the incidents in 2017/18 year, explosives were used, and in 178 incidents, firearms were used. In three incidents, hands were used.

“Our emphasis should be on what should be done and not on the crime stats,” said Cele.

“I want to put it here that we should ask what should be done. I said to the South African Police Services that never again will we deliver this kind of statistic, or worse.”

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works in the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA. 
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    • Lawrence Mashiyane

      Lawrence Mashiyane

      Lawrence is a Third-year Linguistics and English Literature student at the University of Johannesburg. He is currently pursuing a career as a writer and editor.
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