GEORGE NEWS - In line with the trend in 2020, murder has once again shown a steep increase in the first quarter of the year. This came to light in the latest national quarterly crime statistics, which were released by National Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday 14 May.
A shocking 4 976 people were killed in the first three months of 2021. This is 387 more murders than in the corresponding period last year. Twenty-two of these murders took place in the George area.
Cele pointed out an overall decline of 8,5% in contact crimes including assault, sexual offences, common assault and robbery during the quarter, but murder and attempted murder recorded an increase of 8,4% and 8,7% respectively.
Local murders higher
Murder also increased in the greater George, according to statistics gathered at the four stations in the area, George, Pacaltsdorp, Conville and Thembalethu.
Murder in Thembalethu is up by five, with 12 murders committed in the first three months of this year. In Pacaltsdorp three people were murdered, two more than last year. Conville had six murders in total, the same as in the first quarter of 2020, while George is the only station that recorded a decrease, with one murder compared to three last year.
Cases of attempted murder increased everywhere except Conville, where it was down one case from four attempted murders last year.
George and Pacaltsdorp both showed a decrease in cases of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH), while Conville and Thembalethu showed increases of 12 and 11 cases respectively. Common assault decreased in all areas except in Pacaltsdorp, where an increase of 21 cases (31,3%) led to 88 cases this year.
With 12 rapes, George is one case down on last year, while the station's sexual assault cases increased with four cases to eight in 2021. Pacaltsdorp equalled last year's 10 rape cases but showed an increase of five sexual assault cases to six this year.
Rape in Conville showed a decrease of eight rape cases (40%) from 20 to 12, while sexual assault increased with six cases to seven. At 18 cases, Thembalethu reported one less rape, and sexual assault also decreased from six cases to four. The total sexual offences in Conville decreased from 27 to 21, Thembalethu showed an overall decrease of 7,4%, while George had an increase of four cases (19%) from 21 last year to 25. At 17 cases, Pacaltsdorp also had four more sexual offences this year.
Burglary and theft down
All four stations reported a decrease in property-related crimes like burglary and theft out of a motor vehicle. George had the biggest decrease with 127 fewer reported cases this year, 275 cases compared to last year's 402 - a decrease of 31,6%. Thembalethu showed an overall decrease of 56 cases from 152 in 2020 to 96 this year and Conville reported 51 fewer cases. In Pacaltsdorp the total number of property-related crimes is down to 310 from 345 last year.
Eden Cluster Commander Maj-Gen Oswald Reddy said the overall decreases in the four main categories of crime is evidence of the ongoing efforts by official and community crime fighters to stabilise and reduce crime. He believes that the Covid-19 lockdown and curfew also contributed to these reductions.
However, the increases in the individual crimes (murder, house and business robberies) is a serious concern.
"Alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence and greed remain key contributors to these crimes and every effort is being made to address them during the current quarter and beyond with the lockdown level 1 provisions in place," he said.
He called on the community to support their local police stations' anti-crime initiatives. "Please provide information to the management and leadership on drug dealers and unlicensed liquor outlets. We will conduct raids and operations to address these premises."
He said they have introduced new strategies to address crime and assured the community of the police's ongoing efforts to make the cluster more safe.
Crime stats: Western Cape committed to the fight against crime
The Minister of Community Safety, Albert Fritz, emphasised the province’s commitment to fighting violence and crime following the release of the quarterly crime statistics by Minister Bheki Cele on Friday 14 May. The report covered the period from January to the end of March.
“In sum, the report is unequivocal: crime continues, unabated. I am committed to doing whatever it takes to change this trajectory, so that the Western Cape becomes a safer place for all our residents,” said Fritz in a press statement that was released earlier this week.
According to the report, between 2019/20 and 2020/21 murder reduced 6,93% from 21 325 to 19 846 nationally, and by 3,94% from 3,975 to 3,818 in the Western Cape. In the fourth quarter (January to March 2021), murder however increased nationally by 8,4%, compared to a 2,7% increase in the Western Cape.
The report further shows that Khayelitsha (4th), Mfuleni (5th), Kraaifontein (6th), Delft (7th), Nyanga (8th) and Gugulethu (10th) remain among the top ten murder stations for the entire country. When it comes to rape, Harare (5th) with a total of 53, and Delft (6th) with a total of 52 also occupy the list of the top ten stations nationally. For robbery with aggravating circumstance, Nyanga (335) and Khayelitsha (262) show persistently high numbers.
“The figures are deeply troubling,” said Fritz. “A case in point is the 335 robberies with aggravating circumstances in a community like Nyanga. Surely it is not possible for the people of Nyanga to live a normal life in such circumstances where there is on average 11 robberies with aggravating circumstances every single day.”
The release of the report comes at the same time as reports of budgetary cuts in the criminal justice system, including the National Prosecuting Authority and the South African Police Service (Saps).
“It boggles the mind that National Government sees fit to reduce the budgets of the police and the NPA when figures show that crime is on the increase. We need more resources dedicated to fighting crime, not less. Yes, these are difficult economic times. But surely we need to relook at our priorities. And fighting crime should be on top of the list of priorities,” continued Fritz.
During the press conference, Cele referenced the good working relationship between the different spheres of government in the Western Cape.
“I agree with Minister Cele: we have managed to work well together in certain respects,” said Fritz. “As the Western Cape Government, we are very happy with the bridges that have been built. We hope to build more bridges with the police, both provincially and nationally; ultimately towards building safer communities for the citizens of the Western Cape. We are determined to change these trends. We are determined to see a safe Nyanga; a safe Delft; a safe Cape Flats; a safe Western Cape.”
The Western Cape’s safety plan will gain momentum this year, seeing more evidence-based deployments to some of the worst affected communities.
“We will see 250 more LEAP (Law Enforcement Action Partnership) officers deployed on 1 July 2021, and a further 250 deployed on 1 October 2021. This will bring the total number of LEAP officers deployed to 1 000. The area-based teams are also presently being set up, and these ABTs will have the support of 1 000 youth safety ambassadors who have already been deployed and who will work on violence prevention initiatives,” said Fritz.
“We remain deeply concerned with the relatively low decreases in murder and violence in the province, and I am resolute in ensuring that the work we are putting into implementing our Provincial Safety Plan, together with the police and the City of Cape Town, will ensure that we defeat the scourge of murder and violence in the long term, especially in those areas where the highest number of murders take place.
“While I am disturbed by the seemingly persistent nature of these crimes, I am also confident that, through the work of our Provincial Safety Plan, we are laying the basis for a significant change in the future. We are 100% committed to this fight, and we plan to win it,” concluded Fritz.
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