SA and Crime

Now we know why crime statistics were not released earlier this year

Earlier this year, and in the months leading up to our general election, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa reneged on his predecessor’s pledge to release crime statistics twice annually. Now we know why. The 2008/09 crime statistics reveal a serious deterioration of the crime outlook in South Africa, with significant increases in crime in a number of key areas – including sexual offences, robberies, business and commercial crime, vehicle hijackings and stock theft. Clearly these are numbers that the ANC would not have risked releasing publicly in the run up to a national election.

Which highlights precisely the problem that we are facing with fighting crime in South Africa. The ANC continues to politicise its decision making. The ANC gets rid of specialised units that it considers them a threat to its own politicians, even when they are doing a good job. The ANC deploys career politicians, rather than career police officers, to key posts in order to pay back political favours. And the ANC releases crime statistics to the public when it suits them, rather than in the manner that will best assist researchers and the public in responding to crime.

The 2008/09 statistics are cause for serious concern. House robberies are up by 27.3%; vehicle and truck hijackings are also up by 5% and 15.4% respectively. There remain 18,000 murders per year (or 50 per day), and over 5,700 serious crimes every day. Business robberies are up by a staggering 41.5%, and commercial crime is up 16% — indeed, it is little wonder that the World Economic Forum’s Global competitiveness report for 08/09 ranked South Africa as the worst place to do business because of crime.

We have also seen a significant rise in sexual offences (up 10.1%). This is, of course, of deep concern to us – and highlights just how devastating the ANC’s decision to disband the Family Violence, Sexual Offences and Child Protection units (FSC) was. That decision was taken for political purposes, and has come at a high cost to ordinary South Africans.

With the 2010 World Cup fast approaching, the usual rhetoric and empty promises must once and for all be brought to an end. We need more police, and better training; we need to deal with the backlog of 20,000 forensic laboratory samples; we need the reconstitution of specialised units, and an end to cadre deployment within our Police Service. Only by dealing with the real problems within the Police Service can we hope to tackle crime more effectively, and bring down the crime rate in future years.

In their totality, these statistics confirm the findings of the recent National Prosecuting Authority annual report, which noted a “higher inflow[s] of cases” and “[m]ore accused and more counts per case” in 2008/09. In other words, the ANC just isn’t getting the job done.

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