The latest crime statistics, which were released last week, revealed that gang-related crimes, including illegal possession of drugs and firearms are areas of major concern for Grassy Park and Steenberg police stations.
This can be linked to the ongoing gang war and sporadic shootings in areas like Ottery, Parkwood, Lotus River, Cafda and Lavender Hill.
According to the statistics, which were released by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and which covers the period between April 1 last year and March 31 this year, the Western Cape is once again the province with the highest murder rate, with a 4.9 percent increase in the number of murders.
The stats also showed that almost half a million people were victims of crimes in the province during the period in question.
At Grassy Park police station illegal possession of firearms and ammunition increased from 55 cases in 2014/2015 to 89 cases in 2015/2016 while at Steenberg station it increased from 73 cases to 114 cases.
In the Grassy Park precinct, drug-related crimes saw a smaller increase – from 1 374 to 1 378 – while Steenberg police station’s drug-related crimes spiked from 1 456 cases to 1 831 cases.
Murder cases also increased in both Steenberg and Grassy Park precincts, from 43 to 58, and 41 cases to 42 respectively.
At both Wynberg and Muizenberg police stations most crimes, including contact crimes as well as property related crimes have decreased since the last monitoring period- contact crime includes murder, sexual assault, common assault and common robbery.
Contact crimes were at their highest in 11 years for Grassy Park and Steenberg police stations.
Steenberg police’s station commander Colonel Jan Alexander confirmed that gang activity increases the statistics, especially in the categories of crime related to drugs, firearms and murders.
He said their priority was to fight gang activity in the precinct and that there had been several operations to deal with the issue.
“We have operations but a lot of arrests and cases depend on the input of the community where gangs are prevalent.
“In some communities there are residents who are actually against the police, and protect gangsters. This makes things very difficult for us and compromises the work we are able to do in the area,” said Colonel Alexander.
Steenberg CPF chairperson Lucinda Evans was concerned that crime was still very high – and increasing – in the Western Cape.
“There are seven stations listed as the country’s 10 top murder hot spots,” she said. These include Nyanga, Gugulethu, Harare, Khayelitsha, Delft, Kraaifontein and Mfuleni stations.
“This is extremely worrying. I would also like to congratulate the Mitchell’s plain cluster, which includes Steenberg, for not being on the list. I thank the hard working SAPS officers and management for ensuring this. I am also thankful for the dedication of the CPF (members) who work with the community structures and ultimately the communities that report crime,” said Ms Evans.
She added that staff shortages remained a huge challenge at all police stations.
Public relations officer for the Grassy Park Community Police Forum, Philip Bam, said the statistics were not a true reflection of the crimes being committed.
“It’s outdated and there are many crimes where cases were not opened. SAPS should maybe check how many complaints have been logged, then we would have a true indication of the crimes being committed,” he said
He encouraged people to report all crimes at their local police station. “This way there is a record and police can investigate. Also, this will show that there are more crimes in the area,” said Mr Bam.
He added that this way the necessary resources would be deployed to the stations.
Provincial Police Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula said he hoped the deployment of an additional 1 000 new police recruits at stations across the province would help bring a turnaround in the crime stats.