Crime stats looking grim

For illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, Steenberg police came in at number 19 with a 14.9% increase.

The Steenberg and Grassy Park policing precincts are among the top 30 areas worst affected by drug-related crime in the country.

This is according to the latest national crime statistics released last Thursday.

In addition to this, the Steenberg policing area has seen a 14.9% increase in cases of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, placing it in 19th position in this category nationally.

According to the numbers, things are looking grim for the Western Cape when it comes to murder and attempted murder.

Countrywide, there were
21022 murders during the 2018/2019 financial year,
686 more than the previous year – an increase of 3.4%.

In the Western Cape, murders increased 6.6% from 3 729 cases last year to 3 974 this year with the top cause being gang-related. The statistics cover the period between April 1 last year and March 31 this year, and the numbers show that Grassy Park, Steenberg and Wynberg police stations are in the top 30 of at least seven crime categories.

In addition to Steenberg and Grassy Park being in 14th and 22nd respectively for drug-related crime, Steenberg found itself in 19th position for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and Grassy Park in 26th place for malicious damage to property, which increased 11.6% when compared to last year’s stats.

Grassy Park also saw an increase in contact crimes and sexual assault.

Sexual offences across South Africa for 2018/2019 went up 4.6% to 52 420 cases, but in the Western Cape they dropped by 0.5%, from 7 075 to 7 043 cases. Grassy Park’s figures spiked by 69.6%.

The statistics show that gang-related crimes, including illegal possession of drugs and firearms, are still a huge concern for Steenberg and Grassy Park police stations.

Provincially murders related to gangsterism stand at 938.

This can be linked to the gang war and shootings in the precincts which include Ottery, Parkwood, Lotus River, Lavender Hill, Cafda and Steenberg over the past year.

While Steenberg saw a percentage drop in its attempted murder stats, the numbers are still high, with 108 cases reported there during the period under review compared to 110 last year. Their murder stats also decreased – from 55 to 53.

Many, however, say the crime stats are not a real reflection of what is happening in communities and that many crimes are not reported.

Mayor Dan Plato said the lack of reporting of crime had come under the spotlight. “I remain concerned with a worrying trend over the last three years which shows decreasing statistical reporting of crime by communities.

I urge communities in the Western Cape to continue to report all incidents of crime to their nearest police station. The people of the Western Cape need to have the necessary confidence in the police that those responsible for crime will be caught and will face their day in court,” said Mr Plato.

Public relations officer for the Grassy Park Community Police Forum (CPF), Philip Bam, believes the numbers don’t reflect how bad the situation really is. “The stats is a guide; it isn’t useless but it does not reflect what is really happening. We know things are actually worse than what it says in the stats,” he said.

“Instead of chasing stats police should be chasing crime and also focus on what is considered minor crimes because if criminals can get away with minor crimes then they are not going to respect police and that’s when the major cries happen,” aid Mr Bam.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said in
the past year they have thoroughly
analysed and debated the crime trends with the management team of the
police with a specific emphasis on the number of murders as a “common denominator”.

“It is always advisable to give background in order to better contextualise any subject matter. Statistics have proven that the number of murders reported decreased from 18 084 to 15 554 during the period 2009 – 2012,” he said.

Premier Alan Winde, however, remained “deeply concerned that murder increased by 6.6% in the Western Cape”.

He sad: “Of these, 47% of incidents occurred in just 10 police stations. The murder to population ratio in the Western Cape is 60 per 100 000 – almost double the national average.”

Added to this, Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz said it was concerning that the province had 18.9% of the country’s murders but only 11.6% of the population. The province could no longer
wait on the police to take action, he
said.

“SAPS need to adopt evidence-based policing, which would lead to deployment at key times in key hot spot locations. We need our police to be in these hot spots before crimes are committed, not after. My department will conduct an in-depth analysis of these crime stats, in order to shed more light on specific trends, crime categories and a suite of proposed responses.”