Burger: “Crime statistics are not an accurate measure of crime”

Minister Fikile Mbalula and Major General Thulare Sekhukhune during a media briefing in Cape Town on Tuesday. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare

Research and non-governmental organisations that focus on policing have warned that the crime statistics do not reveal the extent of crime in the country but are only about reported crimes. This follows the release of national crime statistics on Tuesday by the Minister of Police.

Khayelitsha, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Research and non-governmental organisations that focus on policing have warned that the crime statistics do not reveal the extent of crime in the country but are only about reported crimes. This follows the release of national crime statistics on Tuesday by the Minister of Police. In an interview with Elitsha, Dr Johan Burger from the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said that the statistics are not an absolute reflection of crime and that “on average reported crime reflects 30% of the country’s crime situation.” Mandisa Dyantyi from the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) confirmed the same, saying that “the rate at which people report crimes is very low”.

The provincial statistics for the Western Cape reveal that there is an increase in murder rates while sexual offenses have declined. Focussing on  Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Mitchell’s Plain and Phillipi East, which covers Marikana Informal Settlement where there were murdered in a space of 10 day in October, reveals that there was a drop in sexual offenses.

SJC Deputy General Secretary Mandisa Dyantyi told Elitsha that they do not believe the number of sexual offences has decreased but that there is “less and less reporting of these crimes by victims for a variety of reasons but key to this is the lack of faith in the police”. In 2012 the organisation filed a complaint with the Western Cape Government detailing the failure of the police to provide policing in Khayelitsha. This resulted in the establishment of the Khayelitsha Commission.

Dyantyi’s views on the lack of faith in the police by crime victims was echoed by Dr Burger. To get a sense of the accuracy of the numbers of reported crimes, he said some countries have regular victim surveys to complement the statistics. In a crime survey conducted by StatsSA for the period 2013/4 to 2016/7, it was found out that victims of a sexual offense do not believe that the police will adequately investigate the crime and that some rape victims believe that if they take the case to the police and to court “it will result in secondary rape”.

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The numbers of sexual offenses discovered by proactive policing are extremely low with all the Khayelitsha police stations sitting at zero. This according to Burger refers to situations where the police in their duty to prevent crime uncover the crime and make arrests.  This is despite the recommendation by the Khayelitsha Commission that the Civilian Secretariat at national and at provincial level should play an active role in monitoring the work of the three Khayelitsha police stations and the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offenses (FCS) Unit, and that the Minister of Police should ensure that the Civilian Secretariat is resourced adequately.

Residents of Marikana Informal Settlement still ;ive under a security operation due to recent killings. According to the Minister’s spokesperson, Vuyo Mhaga, “A formal request has been made [for] the deployment of the SANDF, we await a decision by President.”  The Western Cape Premier has also continued to call for the deployment of the military in the crime and violence stricken areas of the Cape Flats.

The police claim that they cannot police in Marikana Informal Settlement because of the condition of its roads. Photo by Bernard Chiguvare

This has been met by criticism by some sections of the community as they feel that it will not curb crime but will just add to the violence that is tearing the communities apart.

There are also plans to add one more police station to the existing three stations in Khayelitsha. It will be based in Makhaza.

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