“The rate at which people kill each other is a serious cause of concern, ” said police provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Liziwe Ntshinga as the 2020/2021 fourth quarter crime statistics for January to March 2021 were presented this week at the Chris Hani District Municipality council chambers.
Ntshinga expressed her concern on the trend of murders, gender-based violence and stock theft in the province. “The rate at which gender-based violence is affecting communities is disturbing and the stubbornness of stock theft related crimes has prompted us to embark on massive operational deployments for challenging areas such as Lady Frere and Lusikisiki. I have already ordered that a provincial intervention plan be developed (and was finalised last week) to embark on large scale operations that will frustrate and eradicate the criminal network operating in urban and rural communities.”
Statistics revealed a 21.5% increase in murders, with 938 reported cases in the fourth quarter compared with the 772 recorded in the same period last year. Rape cases increased by 2.1% with 1660 reported cases (ed in January to March 2019/20. Stock theft, however, decreased by 21.4% where a total of 1 900 cases were reported last year over the same period compared to the 1 493 reported cases in the fourth quarter.
MEC Weziwe Tikana Gxothiwe who announced the renaming of her department from transport, safety and liaison to the department of community safety said the release of crime statistics is an opportunity to find innovative ways to be a step ahead of criminal elements. “The provincial executive council pronounced on the justice and crime prevention cluster in March 2021, at the launch the premier emphasised the need to mobilise the solidarity and multi pronged efforts towards safety of communities, working together to reduce all types of crimes. This was the toughest periods for policing and this was made even more challenging by the Covid-19 regulations. It was during this quarter that the country saw some easing of the Covid -19 Restrictions, particularly on leisure activities after some strict restrictions just before the New York . It was during the same quarter that the ban on the sale of alcohol was lifted. Let us be mindful of the challenges law enforcement officials were faced with during this quarter in question. Let us remember that crime statistics are a vital link in the value chain of the the statistics systems in the country which informs policy direction in the criminal justice system.”
Premier Oscar Mabuyane said government had a monumental task of creating safe communities as envisaged in the state of the province address. “If you have a province that is characterised more with crime as a platform for criminals no investors will be keen to come to a province like that. Our effort of economic reconstruction and recovery plan will fall flat. It is important that we are able to arrest this and deal with it in a much more better manner. Behind these statistics are human bodies particularly women and young people. Let us use the integrated crime and prevention strategy as a guide to develop a response plan to the crime statistics. In doing so, we must elevate the pillar of active and community participation through affirming role of community structures and crime prevention our community police forum and safety forums must be strengthened to do their work. Communities must form an integral part of our response plan to these crime statistics led by government. We are emphasising the work led by government because communities have unconventional ways of dealing with crime that can be counter productive for the cohesion that we want to build in our society. Cohesion is broken in the villages of Ezingqolweni and Maqhashu in Cacadu after community members took law into their own hands.”
Mabuyane referenced the killing of seven young people who were recently burnt alive with others hanged in the Cacadu area. “Mob justice will never be tolerated by the democratic government led by the ANC. We must however address the causes that lead people to unleash mob justice.”