Staff shortages hamper crime- fighting efforts

The national police statistics were released last week. However, staff shortages, at police stations across the province still continue to hinder crime-fighting efforts.

Milnerton is again ranked among the country’s top-30 police stations for serious crimes, and the suburb’s civilian crime-fighters fear SA’s crime picture is worse than official stats depict because they meet a public that has largely lost faith in the police and often doesn’t bother to report crime.

And what they’re seeing on the ground is echoed by a Statistics SA study showing a sharp drop in public confidence in the police and courts.

Police Minister Bheki Cele released the latest crime statistics on Tuesday September 11. Covering the period from the April 1 last year to the end of March this year, they show a country seemingly at war with itself: violent crimes such as murder, sexual offences and attempted murder are on the rise.

Murder in South Africa is up 6.9%, from 19 016 cases to 20 336 cases. With 57 people, on average, murdered daily, South Africa, said the country’s top cop,”borders close to a war zone”.

Much like the national trend, murders and attempted murders have risen in Milnerton.

Murder is up 44.7%, from 38 to 55 cases, and attempted murder from 29 to 34 cases.

Milnerton police station ranks 25th in the country’s top-30 precincts with the highest levels of serious crime.

Station commander, Brigadier Marius Stander, says the year-on-year increase in murders, attempted murders, robberies and assaults is a concern for the station’s top brass.

“To this end, our deployments and geographical focus remains in the areas which are the chief generators of these crimes.

“It must be said that the crime statistics once again underscore the vital importance of community involvement in crime prevention initiatives.”

He said sector crime forums, neighbourhood watches, and the Montague Gardens Special Rating Area had all done a lot to reduce property-related crime.

It was also encouraging, he said, that the Milnerton Community Police Forum had seen a “significant reinvigoration” in recent months.

Craig Pedersen, from the Milnerton Crime Watch, says the latest stats don’t give a true reflection of what’s really happening on the ground because they show crime trends from a year ago, not current patterns.

“It is alarming that the violent crimes (in Milnerton) are on the rise. Under-reporting is an enormous problem, where community members are so disheartened that they just don’t bother reporting crimes and attempted crimes,” he said.

“It is quite normal that we encounter people who are victims of attempted muggings and attempted housebreaking who fail to report it, as they just couldn’t be bothered. Effectively, this would mean that the statistics are way lower than they should be,” he said.

In Table View, murders are up 30%, from 10 to 13 cases and attempted murders are up 44.4%, from nine to 13 cases.

Table View Neighbourhood Watch chairman, Grant Lemos, believes the stats don’t tell Table View’s real crime story because a lot of crime goes unreported.

“We feel that the Table View police station is hugely under- resourced. We do not have enough SAPS members to help fight the crime in our area. We also need the Parklands satellite station opened again, as it has been closed for months.

“We at Table View Neighbourhood Watch run our control room from within a room in the Parklands police station, and we can see the frustration and anger from the community when arriving at the station to be met with closed doors,” he said.

“With the rapid growth of the area, we also require more SAPS resources.”

Ward 104 councillor, Lubabalo Makeleni, has also called for an additional police station, but one set up in Dunoon (“Supermarket robbed in Dunoon,” Tabletalk, September 5).

The Victims of Crime Survey, released by Stats SA last September, shows South African households’ satisfaction with the police is on a general decline: from 64.2% in 2011 to 57.3% in 2016/17.

And satisfaction with the country’s courts has plunged from 64.5% in 2011 to 44.9% in 2016/17.

UCT criminology researcher, Anine Kriegler, says some types of crime are more likely to be reported than others.

“Almost all car thefts and carjackings get reported (probably largely for insurance purposes), whereas only about half of all assaults and house burglaries are reported.”

It was easy to get a skew picture with crimes that were heavily under-reported, she said, because what looked like a difference in crime prevalence could actually be a difference in reporting.

“For example, you might end up thinking that there is more robbery in wealthy areas, when actually it is just that wealthier people are much more likely to report their robberies to the police.”