Crime stats a mixed bag

Police stations across the country released their crime statistics this week.

Residential burglaries and thefts from vehicles have dropped across the Wynberg, Kirstenhof and Diep River police precincts, but robberies and shoplifting are on the rise, according to the latest police crime statistics.

The statistics – released by Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula on Tuesday – look at crime figures from the beginning of March 2016 to the end of April this year.

The stats red flag a 22% increase (from 561 to 686 cases) in contact crimes (crimes against people) in Wynberg along with sharp increases in residential robberies (107%), non-residential robberies (88.9%) and non residential-burglaries (50.5%) in that precinct.

Murders reported in the Kirstenhof policing precinct doubled from two to four while attempted murder saw a decrease at all three stations.

Robbery with aggravating circumstances – a crime that has increased nationally by 6.4% – increased at all three stations.

Drug-related crimes increased by 9.8% in Wynberg and decreased by 40.8% in Kirstenhof and by 20.8% in Diep River.

Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs decreased by 25.3 percent in Kirstenhof but soared by 102.5% in Wynberg and by 118% at Diep River.

Rape cases in Wynberg dropped from 14 to nine in Wynberg, rose from seven to nine in Diep River and dropped from 34 to 32 in Kirstenhof.

Sexual assault cases rose from four to 10 in Wynberg and from seven to 12 in Kirstenhof.

Sexual offences nationally have dropped by 4.3 percent, but with 39 828 rape cases reported the overall picture is still a grim one.

Geoff Fox, chairman of Wynberg police cluster, which includes police stations from Mowbray to Simon’s Town, said that based on his brief review of the crime stats that relate to the three station precincts in the Constantia Valley – Wynberg, Diep River and Kirstenhof – it is noteworthy that there was an overall 5% reduction in reported crimes.

“There was a 25% reduction in residential burglaries and a 12 percent reduction in thefts out of and from vehicles. Of concern must be a 39% increase in shoplifting cases and a 23% increase in various categories of aggravated robbery and assault. Included is a 29% increase in residential robberies which averaged six such incidents per month across the Valley,” said Mr Fox.

He also noted that the stats related to the 12 months to March. “And we are already seven months into the next reporting period! Given that all of our stations and most others in the province are under-resourced, we can indeed be thankful that the reported position has not reflected a generally deteriorating situation.”

Lieutenant Colonel June Cilliers, Kirstenhof police station commander, said sexual assault cases had increased from seven to 12 with most taking place in Pollsmoor prison.

She believed awareness campaigns getting the public to be more vigilant about their personal belongings were the reason residential burglaries and thefts from vehicles had dropped.

“It can also be attributed to the continuous support we receive from the various neighbourhood watches who continue to be the stations eyes and ears,” said Lieutenant Colonel Cilliers.

Public campaigns had also helped to drive down drug-related crime, she said.

Lieutenant Colonel Cilliers said shoplifting had increased from 90 to 210 and she believed this was related to the downturn in the economy.

Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said almost a quarter of all crime reported in South Africa occurred in the Western Cape.

“This is often the result of insufficient policing resources. We will continue to advocate for sufficient policing resources, including specialised units to target gangs, guns and drugs,” he said.

Daily, Western Cape police, on average, see nine murders, 19 sexual offences, nine attempted murders, 66 assaults with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, 109 counts of common assault and 65 robberies.

The Diep River and Wynberg police stations did not respond to our requests for comment before this edition went to print.

Diep River spokesperson Constable Zak Marais says they continued to strive towards the fight against crime and were privileged to be working with community structures such as the neighbourhood watches and security service providers.

“The forever growing partnership with these structures has led to the continual stabilisation of crime in the Diep River area. Diep River is a property-related station as we have had a continual decrease in house break-in and theft. However many residents and businesses are not part of any structure and we encourage them to take part in the fight against crime,” said Constable Marais.