Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday called on the alcohol industry to be part of the solution and offer social responsibility programmes, saying alcohol abuse is the ‘albatross around ones neck’ for the South African Police Service (Saps) and certainly for the communities the Saps serve.
Cele was addressing the media on the National Crime Statistics, reflecting on crimes reported to the Saps from January 1 to the end of March 2021.
He said communities can no longer afford to stand aside and look, adding that they have to be part of the solution to crime by saying no to alcohol abuse.
He explained that while all cases of assault have decreased by over 9%, there were still over 75 000 cases of common assault and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm opened with the police between January and March this year.
The Minister highlighted that in 2 855 incidents of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm it was confirmed that alcohol was consumed either by the victim or the perpetrator or both.
Meanwhile, 2 047 incidents of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm took place at either a bar, a night club, a tavern or a shebeen.
He added that this did not mean that alcohol was not present in parks, beaches and other places of entertainment.
“Some communities have more taverns, as compared to any other establishment, in their area of residence, including churches and schools combined. We have one community here in Gauteng that has got about 52 schools, 6 clinics, 38 churches, 92 spaza shops but have got 331 shebeens and 11 bottle stores. So you cannot expect social stability in that community, that is over supplied by this alcohol,” Cele said.
The Gauteng and Western Cape provinces recorded the highest assault cases.
Cele described the death of the Saps members at the hands of criminals as a crisis that is unfolding and which has the potential to threaten the country’s peace and stability.
It is reported that in the first three months of 2021, 24 police officers were killed.
Eleven of them were killed on duty while preventing, combating or solving a crime and some were attacked or ambushed while conducting patrols and had their official firearms stolen.
“So it cannot be normal that police officers, who each day, go out there to protect and to serve, are killed and the public remains unshaken. There is no public outrage, no outcry from activists and non-governmental organisations and no one is demanding justice for them. So, if we are to win this fight against crime, such criminal acts against police can’t be ignored but must be addressed at community level,” he said.
He highlighted that decreases in many of the crime categories would not have been achieved without the dedication, determination and hard work of the men and women in blue.
MURDER AND RAPE
Cele revealed that 4 976 people were killed in the first three months of 2021, an increase of 387 more people when compared with the same period in the previous financial year.
He stated that the sexual violence meted against women is simply shameful, while, seemingly, men and children are not spared.
While there has been a decline in sexual offences cases, 9 518 people were raped between January and March, 387 fewer cases than last year.
“We remain encouraged that rapists can be brought to book through the availability and access to rape kits at all police stations. Moreover, a DNA recovery plan is in place to progressively clear the DNA backlog experienced at Saps Forensic Science laboratories,” Cele said.