Chairperson of the NCOP,
Chairperson of the Select Committee on Security & Constitutional Development,
All Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As the Ministry of Police, we are delivering this Statement on Crime Statistics with full cognizance of the existing challenges that we are facing as the Department of Police in combating and preventing crime in all our communities. It is with this reason that we take the Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS) 2011, as published by the Statistics South Africa, very seriously.
And, as we go along with this debate, we, as the Ministry of Police, would hopefully show this House, how the Department of Police will be utilising this invaluable information from STATS SA, to improve on our successes against criminals.
Notwithstanding, we would want to indicate unequivocally that, indeed, any good democracy like ours, does need good statistical data to identify and measure patterns and trends of criminal activities.
But, statistical data is not the only measure for solving crime, because overemphasising the importance of crime statistics inevitably, leads to politiciing the interpretation of this data, resulting to narrow and dramatised questioning of the data.
For instance, the ever distracting so-called expert crime researchers had expectedly questioned the credibility of the crime statistics as released by the Minister of Police last month. They are alleging that the dramatic drops in crime were unexplained, and that whatever is done right is not rolled out to other stations in their policing cluster.
As the Minister of Police had indicated during the official release of the crime statistics, all percentage increases and decreases in crime are calculated on the basis of ratios per 100 000 of the population (per capita figures) in line with international practice.
This is done to equalise our population growth and be able to scientifically compare provinces of different sizes with each other. And, as the Minister indicated, all the figures are available on South African Police Service website.
To then create an impression that the Police are manipulating the stats is not only downright irresponsible; it could also mean that distracters will never be happy when this ANC-led Government is actually making good progress in providing safety to all South African inhabitants.
As I had earlier indicated that, the Ministry of Police is taking full cognizance of the fundamental importance of STATS SA Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS) that was conducted during January 2011 – December 2011.
The VOCS 2011 not only endorses the validity and credibility of SAPS Crime Statistics; this STATS SA Survey actually goes on further to emphasis two critical aspects that may lead to more success in the combating and preventing of crime.
First, STATS SA had identified housebreaking/burglary, home robbery, street robbery, murder and assault, as the most common and feared crime types by members of the households.
And, more than 60% of the households believed that people who committed these types of crimes are drug-addicts/substance abusers, meaning these crimes are drug or alcohol related; as compared to 56% who believed it was because of real need or poverty.
Indeed, the SAPS Crime Statistics for 2011 recorded an increase in drug-related crimes, drunken driving and theft out of/from motor vehicle. Drug trafficking increased by 15.4%; alcohol and drugs ratio increased by 2.9%; and theft from/out of cars increased by 4.8%. Indeed, even stock theft increased by 1.5%, a reverse from a decline of 8.2% in 2010/2011.
From the above statistical data, one then does not have to be an expert to make a logical reasoning and alignment for the causes of increases in certain crimes. For example, if there is an increase in the illegal soliciting and consumption of drugs; and a high rate of unemployment; then unemployed drug abusers will surely find any means to feed and sustain their addiction. Is it then a surprise to see an increase in business robberies (by 7.5%), especially in the midst of these social problems?
Members of Parliament, this then lead me to highlight to you, on the two fundamental aspects that had made me to say earlier on that, the STATS SA Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS) 2011, will be a rich source of information to assist, not only the Police, but all of us as Government Departments and Stakeholders, in the planning of crime prevention as well as developing sharper policies and strategies in a holistic combating and prevention of crime in South Africa.
The first critical aspect is that crime can never be won by police alone; we truly need the community to be our allies and co-pilots in this combative plane to fight all types of crime, especially the sexual offences against women, children, the elderly and the disabled.
As the Minister of Police had pointed out, even though sexual offences have generally decreased, but this type of crime remains stubbornly high. More worrying and depressing to the Government and the SAPS Leadership, is the surge of the heinous crimes such as rape and murder against children and the elderly, the most vulnerable groups in our society.
Free State, Limpopo and Western Cape provinces are registered as the worst hit by these types of crimes for 2011/2012. 40.1% has been registered as all sexual offences perpetrated against children under the age of 18 years.
The STATS SA VOCS indicates that most perpetrators of sexual offences against these vulnerable groups are known people from areas. Nearly a third (38.4%) of the victims of sexual offences was attacked/victimised by a known community member in their area, while only 10.5% were unknown perpetrators.
As Government, we cannot more over-emphasise the importance of community in the fight against crime. We encourage our CPFs to be more vocal and visible as whistleblowers against crime, and to help facilitate increment rate in the reporting of these crimes against our most vulnerable groups.
The United Nations Commission on Status of Women (UN CSW) has also announced that, for next year’s 2013 UN CSW Conference, the priority theme will be on Gender-Based Violence, and South Africa is expected to be the lead facilitator for this theme in the African continent.
The Ministry of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, supported by the Ministry of Police, will lead the South African Delegation to the UN CSW 2013.
Another critical issue highlighted by the STATS SA VOCS 2011, is the importance of an inter-governmental and inter-departmental approach in combating and preventing crime effectively and efficiently.
For instance, we consistently need a strong Criminal Justice Cluster System to fight against crime. Although the Minister of Police has re-established the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Units, and declared the 2012/213 as the Year of the Detective, we need to always strive for a strong working relationship with the Judiciary to have sexual offences cases prioritised and, to increase the successful convictions of these heinous criminals.
Notwithstanding, we are happy with progress on the investigations and convictions made thus far, against these heartless molesters. To date, 175 life sentences have been secured on sexual offences cases involving children under the age of 18. In cases where they involve victims more than 18 years, 10854 years of imprisonment have been secured.
Also, the STATS SA Survey indicates that 88.2% of households feel very safe or fairly safe when walking alone during the day, compared to only 37.0% when it was dark.
This indication points not only to the need of more visible policing, but also to inhibiting factors that must be addressed in cooperation with other Government Departments, factors such as: Environmental design of suburbs and informal settlements (no street lights; unclear identification of residences; road conditions).
The recent violent protests have also diverted core policing human, financial and material resources to provinces affected by these protests. And, inevitably, this has affected our conventional policing. Indeed, we should also expect high crime statistics because of the increased violent protests in some parts of the country.
In conclusion Members of Parliament, I would strongly appeal to all political parties present here to have a common vision and aim in the fight against crime, and to cease uttering unfounded and unsubstantiated claims that nothing is being done and that there is chaos in this country.
These unfounded claims are not only unpatriotic, but they are also undermining the good work our women and men in blue are doing in the streets, and at most times losing their lives protecting our Constitution and our Country, as it is happening currently in the Western Cape.
I thank you all.