SAPS Crime Statistics: April to December 2016, with Minister

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03 March 2017
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The South Africa Police Service reported on the crime statistics for the last nine months of 2016/17 and compared them to 2015/6. There were 960 000 serious crimes cases reported to SAPS over the nine-month period (that is, 3 550 crimes every day or 148 crimes per hour). The biggest crime increases happened in contact crimes, with robbery with aggravating circumstances (including carjacking) increasing by 6.1%. Trio crimes (carjacking, robbery at home and robbery at non-residential premises) had large increases – with carjacking having the biggest increase of all categories.

There are 17 community-reported crimes, which fall under the four broad categories of contact crimes, contact-related crimes, property-related crimes and other serious crimes. The overall ratings show that for the first quarter there had been an increase of 1.6% from 420 722 crimes committed in 2015/2016 to the 427 481 crimes committed in 2016/2017. The Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga are the only provinces that had increases in crime cases. Comparing 2015/16 to 2016/17, there had been a 6.1% decrease in robbery with aggravating circumstances cases, a 1.2% increase for burglary at non-residential premises cases and a 2.0% increase in stock theft cases.

There was an increase of 2.2% in contact crimes in first quarter of 2016/17, a decrease of 1.7% in the second quarter, a decrease of 5.3% in the third quarter and an overall decrease of 1.9%. Free State, Limpopo, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape all showed decreases in contact crimes during the trimester of 8.2%, 8.1%, 5.7% and 2.3%, respectively.

The provincial overview showed that murder cases in Western Cape increased by 0.7%, in KwaZulu-Natal by 1.7%, in Gauteng by 3.7% and Mpumalanga by 6.8%. The trimester results showed an overall decrease of 6.3% for sexual offences with 2 513 fewer cases. The Western Cape is the only province that showed an increase of 0.3% in sexual offence cases. Only three provinces showed an increase in attempted murders; these were Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. All provinces had decreases in common assault cases, with only Mpumalanga showing an increase of 4.8%.

The only two provinces that showed an increase in contact-related crimes were Western Cape and the Eastern Cape. There were decreases in all three quarters of 2016/17 for arson. However, the Western Cape and Eastern Cape showed increases in arson cases. Free State had the highest decrease in malicious damage to property cases with 12.9%, this was followed by Limpopo (9.2%) and Northern Cape (4.4%).

Property-related crimes showed an increase of 1.8% during the first quarter of 2016/17, a decrease of 0.2% in the second quarter and a decrease of 2.2% in the third quarter. North West had the highest increase in burglary cases with 14.1%. Other increases were Northern Cape with 9.7%, Gauteng with 6.2% and Eastern Cape with 3.1%. Theft out of or from a motor vehicle had an overall decrease in cases with only three provinces showing significant increases.

The provincial overview showed that Limpopo, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga had increases in cases of ‘other serious crimes’.

In terms of crimes detected as a result of police action, these increased during all three quarters of 2016/17.

Members asked why Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga have increased in all 17 community-reported crimes; how the police determine a crime has been detected due to police action; how its comparison with the quarter of the previous year may be misleading. Members were concerned about the massive increases in house robberies, implementation process of the amnesty period; lack of police visibility in the rural areas; how SAPS salaries are not encouraging; gangs and syndicates; the decrease in the public’s level of trust in the police; about the validation of the crime statistics and the role of Statistics South Africa.

Meeting report

The Chairperson noted that the Minister in the Presidency, Mr Jeff Radebe, had announced a firearm amnesty, which will be effected from 1 April 2017. The Committee should welcome this announcement as it will help to deal with the illegal firearm pool in the country, however the Minister of Police and the Minister in the Presidency must report to the Committee on how the firearm amnesty will be approached, the communication plan, the criteria and the steps SAPS will take to secure the firearms handed over. He proposed that the briefing be done on 15 March 2017.

Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, said it is true that an amnesty period will be effected from 1 April 2017. An official report on how illegal firearms contribute to contact crime, and contact related crimes, is yet to be released by the Department’s research team. Once the report has been completed, it will provide a briefing.

Crime Statistics South African Police Service briefing
Major General Norman Sekhukhune, SAPS Head: Crime Research and Statistics, said there are 17 community reported serious crimes in South Africa which are broken down into four broad categories: Contact crimes. Contact related crimes, Property related crimes and Other serious crimes.

Overall statistics for April to December 2016 show that for the first quarter there has been a 1.6% increase from 420 722 crimes committed in 2015/2016 to 427 481 crimes committed in 2016/2017. The crimes decreased by 1.6% during the second quarter from 447 064 reported crimes to 440 030 reported crimes. In the third quarter the crimes decreased by 4.4%, with a difference of 20 828 cases. Significant strides to reduce crimes are noticeable in the second quarter and third quarter as all broad categories of serious crimes are on the decrease. Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga are the only provinces that had an increase in crimes; the EC crimes increased by 1.2% and Mpumalanga by 2.0%. From 2015/16 to 2016/17 there has been a decrease of 6.1% in robbery with aggravating circumstances, an increase of 1.2% in burglary at non-residential premises and an increase of 2.0% in stock theft. Overall, rape has also decreased by 6.5%.

Contact crimes refers to crimes in which the victims themselves are the targets of violence or property is targeted and the victims in the vicinity during the commission of the crime are subject to threats of violence or the use of such violence, such as murder. There was an increase of 2.2% in contact crimes during 2016/17 in the first quarter, a decrease of 1.7% during the second quarter, a decrease of 5.3% in the third quarter and an overall decrease of 1.9%. Mpumalanga is the only province that showed an increase of 3.0% in contact crimes in the trimester. Free State, Limpopo, the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape all showed decreases in contact crimes during the trimester of 8.2%, 8.1%, 5.7% and 2.3%, respectively.

Murder cases in the first quarter increased by 0.6%, with 4180 cases in 2016/17 compared to the 4154 cases in 2015/16. The second quarter also saw another increase of 1.9% in murder cases during 2016/17 and decrease of 2.3% during the third quarter with 126 fewer cases. The provincial overview showed that Western Cape murder cases increased by 0.7%, KwaZulu-Natal increased by 1.7%, Gauteng increased by 3.7% and Mpumalanga increased by 6.8%.

Sexual Offences had a decrease of 6.9% in the first quarter, another decrease of 5.3% in the second quarter and a decrease of 6.6% in the third quarter. There was an overall decrease of 6.3% in sexual offences with 2513 fewer cases. The WC is the only province that showed an increase of 0.3% in sexual offences. Sexual offence cases decreased in Limpopo by 14.3%; Free State 12.1%; EC 1.09% and Mpumalanga 7.8%.

Attempted Murder saw an increase of 3.1% during the first quarter of 2016/17 with 128 more cases, compared to the 4148 cases in 2015/16. In the second quarter there was a decrease of 1.7% with only 78 fewer cases and in the third quarter there was a decrease of 3.1%. There was an overall 0.8% decrease in attempted murder cases, with an average of 108 fewer cases. Only three provinces showed an increase of attempted murders: EC, Gauteng and Mpumalanga with 2.9%, 9.1% and 15.0%, respectively.

Common Assault cases had all provinces showing decreases in cases reported, with only MP showing an increase of 4.8%. Limpopo, Free State, KZN and Gauteng had decreases in common robbery. However, WC, EC, MP, NW and NC all showed that common robberies had increased.

Contact-related crimes, such as arson and malicious damage to property, had an increase of 2.0% during the first quarter of 2016/17, a decrease of 3.7% in the second quarter and a decrease of 5.4% during the third quarter. There was an overall decrease of 2.6% with 2466 fewer cases. The FS had a decrease of 13.7% in contact-related crimes, Limpopo had a decrease of 9.8%, North West had a decrease of 5.0% and KZN had a decrease of 3.1%. The only two provinces that showed an increase in contact-related crimes were WC and the EC.

Arson had decreases in all three quarters and overall. However, the WC and EC showed increases in cases of arson; the WC increased by 3.8% and the EC increased by 14.8%. Malicious damage to property increased by 2.4% in the first quarter with 674 more cases, the second quarter decreased by 3.6% with 1085 fewer cases and the third quarter decreased by 4.9% with 1647 fewer cases. The FS had the highest decrease of malicious damage to property cases with 12.9%, followed by Limpopo 9.2% and NC 4.4%. The WC and EC showed increases in cases with 2.3% and 3.6%, respectively.

Property-related crimes showed an increase of 1.8% during the first quarter, a decrease of 0.2% during the second quarter and a decrease of 2.2% during the third quarter. Out of the nine provinces, five of them showed increases. The NW increased by 0.3%, MP increased by 2.2%, EC increased by 3.9%, GP increased by 4.0% and the NC increased by 5.2%. Burglary at non-residential premises had increases during the first and second quarters, and a decrease during the third quarter. The only provinces that showed decreases in burglary cases were WC 4.8%, KZN 4.2%, LP 3.0% and FS 1.9%. The NW had the highest increase of burglary cases with 14.1%, followed by NC 9.7%, GP 6.2% and the EC 3.1%. Theft out of or from motor vehicle had an overall decrease in cases with only three provinces showing significant increases in theft cases. KZN had the highest decrease with 8.8%, followed by WC 7.9%, LP 7.6%, NC 4.9%, FS 4.6% and MP 2.5%.

Other serious crimes had an increase of 0.6% during the first quarter, the second quarter saw a decrease of 2.3% and the third quarter had a decrease of 5.3% in 2016/17. Overall, there was a decrease of 2.4% in 2016/17. The provincial overview shows that LP, EC and MP have increases in cases of ‘Other serious crimes’; while there were decreases in NC 10.2%, FS 5.3%, GP 4.1, KZN 2.6% and the WC 2.5%.
Commercial crimes saw an increase in all three quarters of 2016/17. The first quarter increased by 2.6%, the second quarter by 1.2% and the third quarter by 1.4%. Commercial crimes only decreased in three provinces: NW, FS and GP. KZN had the highest increase in commercial crimes with 8.8%, followed by MP 8.5%, LP 6.7%, NC 6.1% and WC 6.0%.

Crimes detected as a result of police action increased during all three quarters of 2016/17. Only NC did not show an improvement:
• Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition detection increased during all three quarters of 2016/17. During the first quarter there was an increase of 4.8% with 170 more cases. During the second quarter 4.4% increase with 170 more cases and the third quarter 3.8% increase with 148 more cases. MP had the highest detection of possession of firearm and ammunition with 14.8%, followed by FS 14.0%, EC 12.9%, NC 12.5%, NW 9.5%, GP 7.3%, LP 3.0% and WC 2.8%.
• Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs detection increased in all three quarters of 2016/17. The first quarter increased by 1.7%, the second quarter 4.9% and the third quarter 0.6%. Overall, there was an increase of 2.3% with 1314 more cases.
• Sexual offences detection as a result of police action had a first quarter decrease by 5.1% with 79 fewer cases, the second quarter increased with 31.3% with 460 more cases, and the third quarter increased by 9.3% with 131 more cases. The provincial overview for nine months showed that the NC increased by 650.0%, NW increased by 526.9%, KZN by 45.4%, FS by 43.9%, EC by 34.3%, WC by 30.2% and GP by 20.5%. Limpopo and Mpumalanga are the only provinces that showed decreases in detections.

Trio crimes for the nine-month period in 2016/2017 had carjacking increase by 14.9% with 1657 more cases, robbery at residential premises increase by 5.3% with 841 more cases and robbery at non-residential premises increase with 6.5% with 970 more cases.

The Chairperson said the integrity of the statistics released by SAPS is important, as such who is responsible within SAPS for the verification of the crime statistics. He asked if they have a working relationship with Statistics South Africa in helping SAPS verify the crime statistics, and what is Stats SA's view of the validity of the statistics. The crime survey reported that South Africans fear house robberies more than the most serious crimes like murder, especially being robbed while they are at home. There are massive increases in house robberies, and these robberies often turn into murders or attempted murders in cases where the robbers find that there is someone at the house. What is SAPS doing in trying to ensure that the majority of house robberies do not turn into murder cases.

Ms M Mola (ANC) said the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga show major increases in the overall broad categories of reported crimes in SA; she asked for the reasons for this increase and what has SAPS been doing to ensure that the situation does not worsen. She asked SAPS to give an example of crimes that fall under the category “all theft crimes not mentioned elsewhere”.

Mr A Shaik-Emam (NFP) asked if SAPS has enough marketing tools for the amnesty period that will guarantee that the public is aware of the programme and if they do not comply, there will be harsh consequences. The comparisons between quarters of the two financial years is misleading because it gives the idea that crime in SA has decreased when in fact all categories of crimes have increased. It would make a lot more sense if different quarters, within the same year, were compared. He asked that for the next presentation SAPS lists the taxi related crimes separately so that the Committee can get a better overview of what actually are taxi related crimes because it was not made clear in the presentation. SAPS must put in place a strategic plan for gang related crimes because it seems that gangsters are finding creative ways to avoid being captured by police, especially in places like the Cape Flats in the Western Cape.

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) said there are four provinces that seem to be the crime capitals of SA; Western Cape, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. In the previous year’s report these four provinces were also in the top five provinces in SA; SAPS does not seem to be winning this war in reducing crimes in the provinces. He asked if SAPS also considers the stock theft that happens between the borders of South Africa and Lesotho, especially on the borders of Free State, where trucks carrying supplies are being robbed before they enter into SA. SAPS must develop a plan to ensure that the borders are secure and turn the situation around.

Mr J Maake (ANC) asked what a crime detected by police action is and how are these crimes are detected. He asked for a breakdown of examples of a commercial crime. Are there reasons why robbery with aggravating circumstances has increased in all nine provinces during 2016/17, and what is concerning is that all crimes have increased in Mpumalanga province.

Ms L Mabija (ANC) congratulated SAPS for having succeeded in decreasing all the crimes in Limpopo.

Mr M Redelinghuys (DA) said the crimes which are mostly feared in SA have increased. He thanked SAPS for a detailed breakdown of sexual offences as it is important for government to identify where the problems are and what needs to be targeted. He disagreed with Ms Mabija because the crime statistics for the past year have increased, especially the crimes that are mostly feared by South Africans. One thing that we agree on is that this is not always a police problem, but a societal one. The drug related crimes should be broken down into categories of possession of drugs, manufacturing of drugs and the selling of drugs. Young black children are being put in jail for simply being in possession of drugs. The problem does not lie only with possessing the drug but also selling and manufacturing the drugs.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) said the amnesty period is vital, however SAPS needs to explain the implementation process because it has had many unsuccessful amnesty periods before. Specific information is needed about what is being done, or what will be done before April 2017, to ensure the adequate implementation of the amnesty period. The rural and urban statistics for crimes should be separated to get a better view of the crime hotspots, and specialised crime units are needed in the rural areas because crimes in rural areas have been on the rise. SAPS reports that there is a decrease of arson cases but during the protests there are a number of private properties and government buildings that are burned, why do these numbers not make sense or seem valid. Also, it sounds as if when a crime is not reported, SAPS does not count it as part of crime statistics.

Minister Nhleko replied that the amnesty will be dealt with during a special session. There will be ongoing communication with communities and finalisation of the Firearms Control Amendment Bill needs to be done. The decision to have an amnesty period was passed by Cabinet a few days ago so there is still a lot that needs to be put into place. Regardless of the type of comparison method, SAPS use of the results would have still been the same. It would have shown that crime statistics are indeed decreasing in many of the broad categories of crimes. SAPS is willing to share with the Committee a research report on the extent of taxi related crimes; there are a number of variables such as control of permits and routes that lead to taxi violence. Two days ago Cabinet approved an anti-gang strategy; he asked that SAPS be given an opportunity to present the strategy to the Committee. Drug possession is a crime just like drug manufacturing and drug selling are crimes; the police have to follow the Act which stipulates that possession is a crime. The proliferation of drugs is that it targets the youth and it contributes to under development. Police cannot simply refuse to arrest someone because they are caught only with possessing drugs because it gives off the impression that buying drugs is legal. In most cases, public protests are peaceful and do not include any cases of arson. Crimes that are detected as a result police action related to the performance of SAPS, however it can be changed to another category if needed.

Lieutenant-General Kgomotso Phahlane, Acting National Police Commissioner, replied that during the presentation it was indicated that the blue print indicates quarter one, showing an increase. This was informed by a monitoring system, which indicated that extraordinary measures were needed to keep crime down. Contact crimes have increased, especially the increase of murder cases. What is needed is for SAPS to take all categories seriously and all crimes seriously. Indeed, there are some rape cases which are not reported, hence SAPS has started working with organisations that stand against the sexual abuse of women. Property-related crimes at residential premises have increased, hence SAPS has increased visibility in residential areas.

The Chairperson said he wants assurance that SAPS will focus on trying to infiltrate gang syndicates.

Commissioner Phahlane replied that reorganising SAPS will help SAPS deal with syndicates. The problem is members of syndicates get arrested but are released soon afterwards; there is a lack of balance between the work of the police and the law. Once they are released, they continue with their illegal activities.

Maj Gen Sekhukhune replied that SAPS has a clearance committee, which comprises of members from Stats SA and the Department of Police. A clearance report is often published after the crime statistics are released; this report gives indications on which crime statistics (numbers) need to be improved. The Statistician General of Stats SA also writes a clearance letter indicating that the clearance committee has worked on clarifying the statistics together. The Statistician General has in the past mentioned that his assessment of the crime statistics report is that it has not yet reached the reliability level of Stats SA but is compliant for use. SAPS also intends on having the statistics verified by the independent Data Quality Assessment Team from Stats SA.

The Chairperson asked if there is a monitoring and evaluation system to verify the numbers.

General Stefanus Schutte, Deputy National Commissioner, responded that all recorded crimes are retrieved from the police stations where they were reported. When a crime is reported at a police station, it becomes the responsibility of the police officer to take down the statement, which helps to determine the elements of the crime and which crime has been committed. It is the responsibility of the shift commander to ensure all crimes have been properly identified and recorded on the system. The detective commander then has the responsibility to scrutinise the documents and identify if the crime has been correctly allocated on the system. Once this process is done the investigating officer should determine and confirm that all the facts have been recorded on the system. The aim of this exercise is to ensure that all crimes are recorded on the system, and lastly the Crime Information Management and Analysis Centre (CIMAC), situated at police stations, also has the responsibility to scrutinise all reported crime to ensure that all crimes have been identified correctly on the system. In essence, it becomes the responsibility of the station commander and the management team to ensure crimes are recorded correctly.

The Chairperson noted that an M&E national system does not exist to verify the recorded crimes.

Maj Gen Sekhukhune added that one of the responsibilities of CIMAC officials is to conduct an audit of the number of crimes recorded over the last 24 days. At national level, the cases recorded are audited daily.

Commissioner Phahlane added that they were making commendable progress in decreasing crimes committed on farms and smallholdings. During 2015/16, there were about 457 incidents of crime, and 50 people were murdered on farms in that same year but in 2016/17, there were only 307 incidents. A number of the arson cases were reported during the Fees Must Fall and Vuwani protests. The detection of sexual offences by police action is detected through the police patrol of brothels, of if the police receive an anonymous phone call reporting an illegal brothel. The sex workers and the clients are then arrested on location. Crime levels have indeed increased in the four provinces but KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape have improved in the last year. Khayelitsha and Nyanga are still very problematic in the Western Cape.

Mr Sekhukhune added that commercial crimes are fraud, forgery and the intention to defraud.

Commissioner Phahlane said he does not have the breakdown of different drug related crimes and he will present the categories at the next Committee meeting when they report on their annual statistics.

The Chairperson asked what three lessons should the public learn from the crime statistics and how would SAPS advice the public on what to do when dealing with the police. The crime survey showed that the public’s level of trust in the police has decreased, which is problematic. He asked what the role of SAPS is in dealing with police stations that are struggling to cope with the amount of work; will SAPS advise, coach and rotate the SAPS officials.

Mr Shaik-Emam said it is unfair for SAPS to expect police officers to perform under harsh circumstances. The problem is more time is being wasted by dealing with crimes that have already happened, because this allows syndicates to plan and commit more crimes when the police are not watching. Also, other crime related issues that affect the high percentages are being ignored. For example, if a car has been stolen the thief is able to change and use a fake number plate. The SAPS has to deal with taking the cars with fake number plates off the road. SAPS should consider asking the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to help them with managing crime in the communities because it does not look like SAPS has the capacity to do so on its own. The working benefits of police officers is not encouraging; their salaries have stayed the same for a long time and gangsters have realised that most police officers wear bullet proof vests so opt for shooting the officers in the head instead of the chest.

Mr Ramatlakane said he is happy to hear that SAPS has an anti-gang strategy, and that Cabinet has approved the strategy. Although the strategy was originally for the Western Cape, it is vital that other provinces also adopt this anti-gang strategy.

Mr Maake asked if poverty leads to the increase in shoplifting crimes and is the crime seasonal. He asked if commercial crimes can also be identified as ‘white collar crimes’. It is possible to decrease crimes but being able to sustain the decrease is difficult. He asked SAPS to again clarify how sexual offences are detected, because sex workers cannot simply be arrested by just walking on the side of the road; how does SAPS determine that a sexual offence is being committed?

Mr Redelinghuys said robberies that take place while residents are at home are on the increase, which is mostly feared by South Africans because it is a physical confrontation that can lead to murder. He said that the different categories of sexual offences should be broken down for the purpose of identifying where the real problem is and where they are. He will retract his statement congratulating SAPS on decreasing sexual offences because he thought the numbers were in relation to rape cases of non-sex workers.

Mr Mbhele said the crime survey stated that most people do not feel safe during the night, assuming that most crimes take place during the night. He asked if SAPS has a statistical breakdown of what time of the day crimes happen, which crimes take place during the night and which crimes during the day. The Western Cape is often nicknamed the crime capital of the country, forgetting that only a few areas, Manenberg, Hanover Park, Nyanga and Khayelitsha are where the crimes are concentrated the most, and not forgetting that there is also an increase of crimes in the City Bowl of Cape Town.

Minister Nhleko responded that there are a number of things which SAPS needs to improve on. First, they must improve on their internal controls such as the follow-up processes on cases. Second, they must improve on the external management of communities and crimes/improving policing and constructive engagements with communities. The rural-urban divide is a big challenge; you have more pronounced policing in urban areas which the rural areas do not have. The larger parts of the rural areas do not have police stations and community members have to travel for hours just to report a crime. Due to this most crimes in the rural areas end up not being reported. Members of syndicates used to struggle to get bail but the bail application process has become a lot easier, and getting bail has become easy too; hence gang members are released soon after they have been caught. Therefore, there must be some sort of co-operation amongst the criminal justice system, then the rest of the systems can follow. The other issue is that there are certain individuals who seem to be given special treatment, such as being given 24-hour notice before they are arrested. This kind of behaviour will not do well for the developmental society that SA is trying to create. Unfortunately, using the army to help police manage crime is not an option. The army has its own international duties and responsibilities, and it is not appropriate for SAPS to ask the army for assistance each time they are faced with challenges. Instead, SAPS should develop more strategies on how it plans on dealing with crime.

Commissioner Phahlane said the reality is that when the crime stats have decreased, the public claim that it is due to crimes not being reported, and when they increase the police are blamed for not being visible or not taking enough action to combat crime. The key point is that many cases reported as murder or theft, after investigations, change because of new evidence or if the cases were not reported or recorded correctly. SAPS needs the help of other stakeholders and civil society in trying to combat crime - SAPS has been working closely with the Department of Home Affairs and the SANDF. SAPS has improved and the report is an indication of progress made. SAPS is able to detect where certain crimes are committed the most, the time they are committed and if they are seasonal. Shoplifting can be attributed to poverty, but on many levels it is caused by greed. The statistics for shoplifting in the third quarter of 2016/17 increased tremendously and this is the impact of the festive season operations.

The Chairperson said the Committee welcomes the general decrease in crime in the provinces, especially contact crimes. Police stations and clusters are vital for ensuring crime intelligence takes up their role. He thanked SAPS and noted the White Paper on Police will be discussed the following week on 8 March.

The meeting was adjourned.

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