The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) notes the announced 2017/18 period crime statistics as tabled by the South African Police Service (SAPS) management in parliament this morning.
We have noted the that over the mentioned period, about 2 096 781 counts of serious crimes were committed, and that out of these 1 662 815 were community-reported, while only 433 966 were due to police action, therefore demonstrating the shortfall within which police are purported as to being the first line of defence in keeping our communities safe.
Most worrying has been the increase in the murder rate which increased by 6,9%, signalling in the main the number of firearms roaming our streets at any given time, to an extent where it is estimated that 57 people are killed on a daily basis in our country.
This is not by coincidence, but by design.
For us, the fact that there has been an increase of 0,9% in reported sexual offences possibly demonstrates two possibilities; one being that the public calls by the SAPS management for victims of abuse within families to report their violations are now finding expression within police stations, and a friendlier staff complement is being generated, while on the other side, it provides a broader window into the scourge the many have continued to suffer in silence.
To this extent, there should be more work done in ensuring our police stations open up to such complaints while working hand-in-hand with communities and other relevant government structures in educating our communities, both male and female, about the adverse effects such actions have not only on individual families, but society as a whole.
It is further concerning that in this financial period we have lost 85 police officers, some of which were killed in police stations. We have since 2015 been calling for a plan to deal with police killings, yet nothing has materialised.
Considering that the SAPS is constituted by 191 000 police officials, a significant part of which are office based within the bloated national and provincial managerial offices, who have to safe-keep a growing population of 57 million, it has become an impossible burden to tackle the challenge of crime accordingly.
Much as the National Police Commissioner promises to increase the number of trainees to 7000 per year, we know very well that senior government officials have recently been flirting with the idea of cutting down public service jobs, with claims that the public wage bill was too high, and this real threat to jobs has seen the demoralisation of many within the public service, and it is something we will collectively fight towards the 13th COSATU National Congress over the coming week.
Overall, we view these statistics demonstrating that there have not been any drastic shifts in its pattern over the years, but most importantly that they reflect the broader socio-economic conditions beyond the police service’s scope.
Statistical outcomes should not only be approached in abstract manner, but should result in a cohesive approach that would ensure all role players form part of building long-term solutions to these trends.