The Committee met with the SA Police Service (SAPS), Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSPS), Statistics SA and civil society organisations to analyse the 2017/18 crime statistics.
The Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) began by providing the Committee with an analysis of the 2017/18 crime stats. The presentation addressed murder as a measure of crime stats, measuring murders at police station level, relevance of other offences and SAPS’ performance measures. The presentation also covered the SA National Victims of Crime Survey and provided recommendations.
Stats SA presented the 2017/18 Victims of Crime Survey beginning with a discussion on why crime statistics are needed, the background to and objectives of the survey, aligning crime statistics and cautionary remarks. The presentation then looked at the general experience of household crime in SA and the general experience of individual crime in SA. The survey looked at household and individual crime – the household crime portion of the presentation discussed trends, dominant household crimes and satisfaction with police response to housebreaking. The individual experience of crime portion of the presentation addressed trends. Quick facts of robbery away from home and assault were then presented followed by households’ feelings about crime and their safety, satisfaction with the police and the courts and households perceptions of effectiveness of correctional services.
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) presented SA’s crime statistics for 2017/18. The presentation addressed the national murder rate from 1994 to 2018, 17 community-reported serious crimes to SAPS from 2008 to 2018, percentage of households affected by crime from 1998 to 2018, percentage of individuals affected by crime from 2013 to 2018, fluctuations in and reliability of SAPS’ crime data, victims who reported crime to the police in 2015/16 and 2017/18, households satisfied with police in their area from 2003 to 2017/18 and feelings of safety during the night and day from 2011 to 2018. The presentation also touched on the uneven distribution of crime by province, crime and violence focused in space and time, reported crimes as a guide to policing, the crime prevention centre/observatory and police statistics promoting public safety.
The Social Justice Coalition (SJC) presented on total shutdowns, trio-crimes and the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service’s analysis of resource allocation, which showed that the police are not where the gangs are, the known link between alcohol use and violence is not acted on and failure to implement section 12 of the SAPS Act. The presentation also discussed the Western Cape vs. national allocation of resources and next steps in terms of the Equality Court judgment, environmental design and guidelines for visible policing in informal settlements.
The Committee asked about the progress made with producing quarterly stats, as regular stats were part of the solution in terms of low hanging fruits to inform sourcing and placements, movement of the SAPS crime stats towards official status, addressing the top 30 stations with the highest rates of crime and what gave rise to certain trends in specific years such as the spike in murder. There was discussion of contributory environmental design factors, which was important to discuss together with an analysis of the numbers, if illegal migrants were included in the population estimates of Stats SA, societal factors involved in murder and if SAPS awarded stations for not opening cases thus bringing down the reporting and status of specific crime categories. Members also questioned the role of illegal firearms, sexual offences, detection and conviction rates, resource allocation and SAPS collaborating with organisations presenting today.
The Committee noted the meeting today was important as after the release of each crime stats, the Committee must reflect on what was occurring. The Committee welcomed the quality assurance process brought about by the partnership between SAPS and Stats SA – the further graduation of this process was anticipated. The anticipated quarterly release of crime stats was also important to ensure trends were identified early and detection and the necessary allocation of resources can then occur. The input of civil society was appreciated. There must be the necessary shifting of resources to the precincts which required assistance especially the top 30 stations to function optimally – without this the necessary impact on crime-ridden communities would not be seen. The Committee appreciated the words of the National Commissioner that SAPS would coordinate efforts with the organisations present today – a silo approach would not build much success.
Matters in the public domain
The Chairperson reacted to the gunning down of a police officer yesterday in Newbrighton, Port Elizabeth. The Committee was outraged by the incident and expressed its condolences to the SA Police Service (SAPS) and the next of kin of the fallen official. National management of SAPS was called to continue to prioritise the safety of operational members. This brazen attack of criminals on law enforcement highlighted the danger SAPS members faced everyday in the execution of their duties. All necessary resources should be mobilised to apprehend perpetrators.
Recently the Committee received much communication from the public about a dated departmental draft from the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSPS) in relation to the Firearms Amendment Bill. This document has no legal understanding and it is unfortunate that some role players created the impression this was an official document of Parliament. This false narrative has led to unwarranted fears and emotions that could have been avoided. The Committee wanted to place it on record that it has not received any official document from the Executive. Role players and firearm owners should await the official tabling of the relevant legislation once finalised by the Executive.
On the investigation of the VBS bank matter, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) should ensure the necessary resources are availed to strengthen investigations. It was acknowledged there were high expectations from various sectors of society for enforcement agencies to deal effectively with white collar crime. In the third week of November the Committee will receive an update on high profile cases from the Hawks.
Mr Alvin Rapea, Secretary of Police, said the leaking of the draft Firearm Amendment Bill was unfortunate. The leaked document was dated 2017. When the CSPS began drafting legislation, it started with internal government processes where there was engagement in the drafting process. Once the drafting process was done, the draft document went to Cabinet for approval before publication. Once public comments were solicited, the draft document went back to Cabinet for approval of submission to Parliament. The leaked document on social media was still under discussion. The process of internal consultation within government was not yet complete and the new draft had to be submitted to MINMEC. Once Cabinet has approved the draft Amendment Bill it will be published for comments from interested parties. It is not right to play on emotions when it came to crime and to create the impression that government does not care.
Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) was fascinated by the response by the CSPS that “it was not right to stir up public outrage” – it was the very document created by the Secretariat that stirred up public outrage. She found it good that the document was leaked so that the populous knows that either the Secretariat wants to take away the right to self-defence, or the right to defend others, or are being instructed to insert this into the Bill as an amendment. The Committee knew legislation takes years and years to develop so to say the document was drafted last year was unacceptable. This has caused absolute outrage. People are being tortured to death in their homes yet the Secretariat proposed South Africans did not need the right to defend themselves so that once the criminals have gotten through the dogs, beams and other security, one could be murdered in one’s home...
Mr J Maake (ANC) raised a point of order to find out if this was the time for Members to discuss the contents of a leaked document – seemingly this was what Ms Kohler Barnard was now doing.
The Chairperson asked Members to deal with matters at hand.
Ms Kohler Barnard said the document was out there and this is what the Committee is discussing – it is very good that the document was released so people knew what the Secretariat was doing, drawing up, proposing and discussing in Cabinet...
Mr Maake interjected that the Chairperson had not ruled on the matter he raised or called Ms Kohler Barnard as being out of order for discussing the contents of the document.
The Chairperson reminded Members the document was in the public domain but the Committee wants to clearly state there is no document before it in terms of an amendment to the Firearms Bill. This was the incorrect impression created on social media by some role players. The Committee received a lot of correspondence over the last few days. This is what Members should speak to.
Ms Kohler Barnard confirmed there was no document before the Committee but found it extremely enlightening that the people that draw up the legislation that will go to Cabinet and come before the Committee have taken away the right to self-defence. It is wrong to think no one would be concerned about this until a document came before the Committee. To do this to law-abiding firearm owners who go through all the hoops to get a licence while criminals just shoot their way to wealth in the country is outrageous and she was utterly disgusted.
Mr Z Mbhele (ANC) echoed the sentiments expressed by the Chairperson regarding the shooting and killing of the police officer. The common thread in all three matters raised by the Chairperson in the public domain, and the topic of the Committee meeting today, was the utter and unmitigated sense of impunity of which criminality rages in SA. The brazenness with which the police officer was killed, as has been the case in other police killings, speaks to what criminals think and know they can get away with, to strike at the very law enforcement officers that are meant to strike fear in their hearts, not visa versa. Similarly with the VBS matter, there was impunity with which it was carried out. The question is whether all role players, both administrative and political, who no doubt would have applied pressure for this to be carried out, will face consequences for their criminal actions. This is why when a provision in a, albeit draft, document from a government department suggested fundamental legislative reform to negate the right to self defence when it comes to firearm ownership, will catalyse and whip up public fear and backlash. To tie this all up, when looking at the crime scenes under discussion today, low detection and conviction rates mean criminals know they can simply get away with crime and that crime in fact does pay. The fundamentals in SAPS must be fixed to make the Service effective, proficient and responsive so it had a much stronger deterrent effect and the tide was turned to ensure criminals did not get away with perpetration of violations.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) expressed his condolences to the many police officers, and South Africans, who have lost their lives because of criminals. Every day the police were faced with this attack. The police must pull out all stops to arrest the perpetrators. An attack on the police in this way should be seen as an attack on the state and must be dealt with harshly by law enforcement agencies, and more importantly, the courts. There must be serious conviction to send a strong deterrent message to those committing this crime. The Committee should meet with the Committee on Justice to ensure there was fast tracking of the conviction of criminals who have killed police officers as this was an attack against the state.
On the VBS matter, the police and law enforcement agencies should deal with the matter of looting.
On the so-called leaked document, the job of Parliament is to make laws and no one could usurp this power. Currently the Committee was not considering such law that purports to take away the right of South Africans to own a gun – anything that said otherwise was not the truth. Documents discussed in the public domain should be seen as official documents. Removing such rights was not a line the Committee would take. With elections next year, it may be found certain matters are used for mobilisation – this matter may be one of these. When the Committee deals with the legislation there will be consultation with role players in the process – anything that said otherwise was whipping up of emotions. The Committee does not have any such document before it.
Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) was satisfied with the explanation from the Secretariat. There is no discussion on the Firearm Amendment Bill before the Committee. There would be no discussion of a document that came in through the window. The Committee would engage on the matter when the document was formally tabled before it.
Analysis of the SAPS 2017/18 Crime Stats: A Civilian Secretariat Perspective
Ms Bilkees Omar, CSPS Chief Director: Policy, began that the crime stats were released in September 2018 covering the period April 2017 - March 2018. Crime stats are provided annually, in actual figures, and in rates per 100 000 of the population. Crime stats are provided for national, provincial and police stations areas. Crime stats cover only crimes reported to the police. SAPS have over the past few years disaggregated the crime stats to crime types (e.g., sexual assault, rape, attempted sexual assault, etc).
No details of crimes are published (geographical info, demographics, etc.). Crime statistics are useful to provide historical trends over years and compare areas to each other. Crime stats allow for targeted interventions if details of crimes are made available. The CSPS has a mandate to advise the Minister of Police in how to deal with the crime problem.
Looking at murder as a measure of crime stats, the key to understanding crime trends are the murder statistics as it is the only offence not subject to under-reporting. SAPS crime statistics only cover reported crimes and a large number of crimes go unreported due to various reasons such as lack of trust in the police and the belief that the police will “do nothing” about the crime or because of the nature of the crime. Sexual assault in particular is dramatically under-reported. Murder therefore reflects the general trend in crimes, and it is also closely related to trends in other violent crimes. SAPS’ stats for murder in 2017/18 reflects:
- Murders are increasing and have been for a while (murder rate is increasing)
- Despite a sharp drop in the murder rate since the late 1990s, the SA murder rate remains very high by international standards
- There were over 20 0000 murders committed - the largest number reported in the last ten years. This means that 35 of every 100 000 South Africans was murdered in 2016/17. The international average murder rate (according to the World Bank) is four murders per 100 000 population. Burundi and Iran lie close to the average. SA’s murder rate is nine times higher than the world median
Murder at police station level is provided by SAPS in actual numbers, not in rates. Using actual numbers results in emphasis being placed on the largest police stations, rather than on those stations where people are least secure. A table was presented which reflected the top 30 largest police stations as extracted from the latest SAPS crime stats. When comparing stations, it is more important to use murder rates because safety issues of communities need to be reflected rather than the size of the police station.
For this reason it is important to understand how crime rates are measured at police station level. Crime rates are calculated based on the 2011 population figures of Stats SA, and not the current population (a new census is due in 2021). SAPS uses the 2011 population data because it is the only population figures available at sufficiently detailed geographical level, i.e. enumerator area. A table was presented which reflected the ten areas with the highest murder rates and actual figures. The table demonstrates that several of the police stations where crime is an issue are small police station areas.
Ms Omar looked at the relevance of other offences noting that unlike murder, other crimes recorded by the police are subject to a greater deal of error because:
- They depend on reporting rates (e.g. sexual offences) or,
- They depend directly on police action (e.g. drug related offences)
It is difficult to tell whether the reported changes are due to a change in the actual number of offences, to differences in reporting rates, or to the differences in levels of police actions. Due to this uncertainty, it should not be inferred that an increase in the number of offences is necessarily a bad thing. An increase in the reporting of rape, for example, can reflect greater trust in the police and should be welcomed.
With SAPS performance measures, as per the above, the murder rate remains the most reliable indicator of crime trends. In the past, the number of violent offences reported in a police station was used as a measure of that station’s performance. This had the impact of:
- holding SAPS to account for things they do not have control over including unemployment rates, inequality, children growing up without father figures, public areas not designed to be safe, and other socio-economic factors
- Giving SAPS an incentive not to report or to under-report certain categories of crime
- Allowing SAPS to ignore petty offences as these have not entered the reporting domain or performance indices
Petty crimes are one of the areas that has not been given much consideration because of the prominence given to violent offences. Policing of petty offences is important to deescalate offences committed by youth in particular, in the early stages of anti-social behaviour. This crime must be formulated into performance indicators in order to be taken seriously.
The recently released victims of crimes survey shows that perceptions of South Africans on crime in 2017/18 were more skeptical compared to the previous year. An estimated 79% of South Africans felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods during the day, a decrease of 6.7% from the previous year. About 32% of South Africans felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods at night, an increase of 8% from last year. The percentage of South Africans who were satisfied with police responses in 2017/18 was 54%, a decrease of 5.5% from the previous year. The most common (34.4%) reason for dissatisfaction with the police was that “they do not respond in time”. The most common reason for dissatisfaction in 2016/17 was “they do not recover goods”.
Ms Omar concluded by noting the above suggests SAPS should not conduct business as usual. Changing this requires modifying the way in which:
- Its performance is measured
- Resources are allocated
- Restructuring interaction with communities and other organs of state, like local government
- Becoming an organisation that values professionalism
- SAPS must win the trust of communities
- SAPS performance must be measured in a more targeted manner, e.g. SAPS station performance must not be measured by crimes which have varying reporting rates
- SAPS has to be steered in a direction of using its resources more efficiently. Currently the number of violent offences and population figures influence resource allocation to stations
- The alternative, which is using murder as a primary measure for resource allocation, is recommended
- It must be understood that SAPS alone cannot deal with the crime issues as safety is an integrated approach which involves the whole of government and the whole of society, as proposed by the 2016 White Paper on Safety and Security
- The CSPS produced policies and research which deals with the above recommendations which must be implemented by SAPS in order to effect the recommended changes. These include the 2016 White Paper on Policing, 2016 White Paper on Safety and Security, research on demilitarisation of SAPS, TRT and Visible Policing, the Police Resource Allocation research report and the State of Policing report.
Victims of Crime Survey 2017/18
Dr Isabel Schmidt, StatsSA Chief Director: Social Statistics, took Members through the presentation looking first at why crime statistics are needed – crime creates anxiety in society and this has a negative effect on the quality of life and economic developments. Its reduction therefore is a priority on the national agenda. Chapter 12 of the National Development Plan (NDP) lists crime reduction as a strategic priority. The NDP envisions that people feel safe at home, school, work and live without fear. One of the broad strategic outcomes of the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2014-2019, is “all people in South Africa are and feel safe”. In order to achieve the national strategic outcomes on crime, it is important to measure the level, trends and patterns of crime and victimisation in SA. The SAPS and Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS) data provide complementary official sources of crime statistics in SA.
The VOC survey is a household-based survey that examines crime from the point of view of the victims. Focus is on people’s perceptions and experiences of crime. The survey began in 1998 and is based on a sample size of approximately 30 000 private households in all nine provinces of SA. From April 2018 a new survey called Governance, Public Safety and Justice (GPSJS) began. GPSJS has some VOC content plus new content on governance public safety and justice. The objectives of the survey are to explore the view households and crime victims have about crime, explore public perceptions of the activities of the police, prosecutors, courts and correctional services and provide complementary data on the level of crime in SA.
Stats SA presents the VOC and SAPS statistics side-by-side as a first step towards aligning the two major sources of crime stats. Different definitions of crime categories is one of the obstacles to be addressed. The International Classification of Crime for Statistical purposes project is a step in the right direction. The VOCS produces estimates of the actual number of incidents of crime experienced by households and individuals while SAPS statistics are derived from crime reported at police stations. VOCS and SAPS stats represent different measures so the numbers would differ even if identical definitions were used.
Dr Schmidt cautioned that the VOCS covers only 13 household crimes and seven individual crimes. Some SAPS crime categories are reported by the VOCS such as crime on businesses, drug-related crimes, illegal possession of firearms etc. Household crimes generally impacts on the household while individual crimes impacts on one individual in the household.
Looking at the general experience of household crime in SA, there was a 5% increase in the estimated total number (1 545 701) of crime incidences, 1 244 152 is the estimated number of households that experience crime and the estimated percentage of households that experienced crime (7.5%) increased by 0.3% points.
Looking at the general experience of individual crime in SA, for persons aged 16 and above, there was a 5% increase in the estimated total number (1 682 624) of crime incidents, 1 417 731 is the estimated number of victimised individuals aged 16 and above and an increase of 0.2% points of the estimated percentage (3.7%) of victimized individuals aged 16 and above.
Dr Schmidt outlined that the North West experienced the highest increase of both household and individual crime. The Free State, North West and Gauteng experienced an increase of both household and individual crime. The Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Limpopo experienced a decrease of both household and individual crime.
In terms of household crime, between 2013/14 and 2016/17, there was a declining trend of the percentage of households in SA that experienced at least one incident of crime. There was however an increase between 2016/17 and 2017/18. Housebreaking or burglary was again the dominant household crime in 2017/18 accounting for about 54% of all household crimes. Motor vehicle vandalism showed the highest percentage increase in crime followed by theft of motor vehicles, hijacking, assault, deliberate damage of residential buildings, housebreaking, murder and home robbery. The biggest decrease in crime was seen in theft of crops followed by theft out of a motor vehicle, robbery away from home, theft of personal property and livestock theft. Households lost clothes in about a third of all housebreakings and cellphones and food stuffs were taken in about a quarter of all recorded housebreakings in 2017/18.
With satisfaction with police response to housebreaking, about 33% of households that reported housebreaking were satisfied with police response. Male and female-headed households were equally likely to be satisfied with police response. The white population group had the highest percentage (53%) of households satisfied with police response to housebreaking reporting. Black African and coloured population groups had the lowest percentage (30%) of households satisfied with police response. The Northern Cape had the highest percentage of households satisfied with police response to housebreaking.
Dr Schmidt said the VOCS estimates of the number of home robbery incidences decreased rapidly between 2013/14 and 2016/17 – SAPS reported cases of home robbery slightly increased between 2013/14 and 2016/17. The VOCS found in 2017/18, for home robbery estimates, there were 156 089 incidences of house robbery which represented an increase of 3%. 0.8% households experienced home robbery. 59% of home robbery victims reported it to the police – this is an increase of 6% points.
Turning to the individual experience of crime, the percentage of individuals aged 16 and above who experienced crime decreased steadily between 2013/14 and 2016/17 then increased slightly in 2017/18. Theft of personal property (41%), robbery outside the home (17%) and assault (21%) accounted for 79% of crime experienced by individuals 16 years and above. Cellphones dominated the list of items lost through theft of personal property affecting 69.1% of victims. In the VOCS there was 693 219 incidents of theft of personal property in 2017/18, which was down by 2%. In 2017/18, 1.72% of individuals aged 16 and above experienced theft of personal property representing an increase of 0.04% points. 24% of individuals aged 16 years and above reported theft of personal property to the police in 2017/18 representing a decrease of 8% points.
With robbery away from the home, most victims (65.4%) are robbed in the streets in the residential area. Males are almost twice as likely to be victims of robbery as females. 31.5% victims resist robbery. 25.8% of victims are injured during robbery. There is evidence of association between resisting robbery and sustaining injury during robbery.
Turning to assault, there are 355 739 incidents. Males are more likely to be victims of assault than females. Females are more likely to report assault to the police than males. More assaults occur at home.
The presentation then addressed the households feelings about crime and their safety – the percentage of households who thought that violent crime increased during the past three years increased between 2016/17 and 2017/18. Households that felt safe to walk (day and night) in their neighbourhoods declined for most of the period 2013/14 to 2017/18.
Dr Schmidt then looked at satisfaction with the police and courts noting there was a widening gulf in household’s satisfaction between police services and how courts generally deal with perpetrators of crime. The Northern Cape showed relatively large declines in both satisfaction levels with police and courts between 2016/17 and 2017/18. Limpopo is the only province to show a higher satisfaction rate with the courts vs. the police.
To recap the 2017/18 VOCS, the general level of crime estimates by the survey has been declining during the past five years but increased in 2016/17 and 2017/18. The percentage of households who feel safe walking in their neighbourhoods during the day continued to decline. Murder increased during the past three years both in terms of the total number of incidents (VOCS) and the number of cases reported to SAPS. A greater percentage of households, in 2017/18 compared to 2016/17, think the levels of violent and property crimes increased during the past three years.
South Africa’s Crime Statistics, 2017/18
Dr Andrew Faull, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), began by outlining some key points including that police crime statistics should be seen as an indicator of societal challenges. Limited crime categories should be used as a measure of police performance. SA is fortunate to have good police and victim survey data. There is a need to consider a broader spectrum of data to understand crime and guide interventions, particularly in murder hotspots - there is a need for this and police data to be available as regularly as possible. There is reason to think that some types of crime are declining, but fear is increasing.
The presentation then looked at the national murder rate from 1994 to 2018, 17 community-reported serious crimes to SAPS from 2008 to 2018, percentage of households affected by crime from 1998 to 2018, percentage of individuals affected by crime from 2013 to 2018, fluctuations in and reliability of SAPS crime data, victims who reported crime to the police in 2015/16 and 2017/18, households satisfied with police in their area from 2003 to 2017/18 and feelings of safety during the night and day from 2011 to 2018.
It is possible that some categories of crime are declining but there also exists a decline reporting to and satisfaction with police, and increase in fear. The most reliable trends are those that correlate (police and Victims of Crime). There is a need to focus on key data in select police areas. It is also clear that crime is not evenly distributed by province.
Crime and violence are focused in space – murder is the most reliable statistic and the best proxy for violence. In 2017/18, 30 stations recorded 20% (4 124) of all murders. In 2016/17, 13% (148) of stations recorded 50% of all murders. 42% of the 1 320 additional murders reported in 2017/18 occurred in 30 police precincts. Most murders occur on weekend evenings:
- Northern Cape: 77% over weekends
- Western Cape: 65% over weekends
- Eastern Cape: 65% over weekends
- KwaZulu-Natal: 61% over weekends
- Mpumalanga: 50% over weekends
If reported crime is to guide policing, 13% murder hotspots should be targeted to slash national murder, violence etc. Additional metrics should be introduced in target precincts e.g. Emergency Medical Services (EMS), public health and mortuary data, victim surveys, victim and suspect call back “service” surveys, dis/order or Quality of Life surveys, analysis of calls for service and problem solving and partnership commitment analysis. This was demonstrated through graphics of accident and emergency data vs. police data.
Looking at the crime prevention centre/observatory, violence and crime prevention must be based on good data. There is a need to establish a structure that collects, collates and analyses a range of data that shed light on crime, violence and risk. The initial focus should be on murder and robbery in high-violence precincts. A National Crime Prevention Centre should eventually manage this. Data and analysis should inform not just policing but a range of violence prevention interventions.
Police statistics should promote public safety – communities need information on the location, profile of victims and perpetrators and modus operandi of crimes taking place. The regular release of police statistics empowers communities and other stakeholders to partner with police to address crime and disorder where it is greatest. The regular release of SAPS statistics at local level is low hanging fruit and should be undertaken as a matter of priority.
Dr Faull notified the Committee of the ISS’s latest policy brief: “should police be assessed using crime statistics?”
South Africa deserves a professional police service committed to intelligence-led, evidence-based and responsive policing
Mr Dalli Weyers, Social Justice Coalition, began the presentation by looking at the recent shutdown protests in areas fighting the scourge of violence and crime– to make the comparison he highlighted that in Cape Town, Bishop Lavis/Bonteheuwel had 24 times more murders per 100 000 people (over four years) but had two times less police per 100 000 people than Rondebosch. Sophia Town/Westbury had 139 times more murders per 100 000 people (over four years) but three times less police per 100 000 people than Rosebank.
Turning to trio-crimes, Nyanga had 20 times more murders per 100 000 people (over four years) but four times less police per 100 000 people than Sea Point yet Nyanga has a much higher incidence of trio-crimes (carjacking, robbery at residential premises and robbery at non-residential premises). Trio-crimes are where intelligence-led, professional policing can have a marked impact.
The presentation looked at a SAPS presentation made to the Committee on 11 September which outlined instruments most frequently used in aggravated robbery:
- 59.9% firearm
- 28.6% knife
- 0.96% bottle/head
- 0.8% panga
- 0.7% sharp instrument
- 0.6% screwdriver
- 0.4% brick/stone
- 0.3% stick
- 0.3% iron pipe
- 0.3% crowbar
- 7.7% other
The top 30 stations with high reporting rates of trio-crimes were presented. Honeydew, which was the second highest station (Nyanga was the highest) has two times more murders per 100 000 people (over four years) but three times less police per 100 000 people than Randburg yet Honeydew has a much higher incidence of trio-crimes. Thohoyandou (fifth highest station for trio-crimes) has two times less police per 100 000 people than Malipsdrift yet Thohoyandou has a much higher incidence of trio-crimes.
The Civilian Secretariat found that, in its Analysis of the police’s resource allocation, the police are not where the gangs are. The SJC was made aware of the Civilian Secretariat’s Analysis of Resource Allocation in the SAPS (the Analysis) during a presentation to the Committee on 27 February 2018. The SJC approached the Secretariat and the Minister of Police requesting the Analysis in its entirety be made public. Although the Analysis focuses on allocation of human resources and vehicles to police precincts, it also reveals a police service that often is not where it needs to be because it asks the wrong questions and uses the wrong data to inform deployment. According to the Analysis, the input sheet used to inform allocation of human resources has a single gang indicator and “falls short of accounting for the frequency of gang violence, the size, the nature of the particular gangs [and] gang activities”. This failure to account for the impact, size and nature of gangs means that police are not where it is needed and this has created the space for the ill-advised and opportunistic call for the deployment of the South African National Defence Force in communities.
Mr Weyers highlighted an extract from Dr Irvin Kinnes from “Contested Governance: Police and Gang Interaction”, University of Cape Town, “one of the more important developments in understanding gang violence is that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has not released any statistics of how many people have been killed through gang violence. It is only recently that the Western Cape Provincial Police Commissioner released the figures. He indicated that 18% of all murders in the Western Cape Province could be attributed to gang violence for the financial year April 2013 to March 2014. This amounted to 464 gang deaths of 2,580 for the entire Western Cape Province”. 21% of all murders in the Western Cape are attributed to gang violence for the financial year 2017/18. This amounted to 808 gang deaths of 3 729 for the entire province.
The known link between alcohol use and violence is not acted on. According to the CSPS’s Analysis of resource allocation, “The SAPS repeatedly draw links between the levels of alcohol use and abuse and high levels of violence”. Despite this, when allocating resources, the SAPS does not take into consideration the number of unlicensed liquor outlets in a given area. In short, the system for allocating resources “does not include reference to one of the major sources of alcohol in some communities which may vastly escalate the levels of violence”. The Analysis states that in informal areas that do not meet zoning bylaws, the number of unlicensed outlets can be four times more than licensed outlets.
The Secretariat also found there was failure to implement section 12 of the SAPS Act. In the Analysis, the KwaZulu-Natal provincial office indicated it does not deviate from the national allocations “due to the province not having alternative criteria which would justify any significant deviations”. In the Western Cape it was found that before 2016 there were no deviations from the national allocations. Former Provincial Police Commissioner Arno Lamoer conceded as much during the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry stating that as Provincial Commissioner he had no discretion to deviate from the Theoretical Human Resource Requirement (THRR) in the allocation of permanent posts. Deviations only started in 2016. Coincidentally the police resources court case was launched on 31 March 2016.
The presentation then looked at the Western Cape in relation to the national picture and showed the Western Cape is not an outlier, provincial comparisons are useless and comparisons using the difference between the fixed establishment and the theoretical allocation is problematic because its elevates the THRR (which has been found to be flawed by both the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry and the Civilian Secretariat’s Analysis). In its 2018 report on the investigation into the Western Cape SAPS personnel practices and shortages, the Public Service Commission said “The most important development in relation to the allocation of resources to the Western Cape province, is the pending litigation in the Equality Court. Although the crux of the litigation is the alleged unfair discrimination against Black and poor people on the basis of race and poverty, scrutiny of the court application indicates that the entire SAPS system for the allocation of resources is disputed. The PSC is therefore of the opinion that the outcome of the court case should be awaited as this would have a major impact on the allocation of resources within the SAPS”. In the case of the Minister of Police and Others v Premier of the Western Cape and Others, it was said “That however is not the end of the enquiry. The entitlements in section 206(3) are a recognition that, whilst a province has no control over the policing function, it has a legitimate interest that its residents are shielded from crime and that they enjoy the protection of effective, efficient and visible policing. That explains why the province has the authority and duty to raise its concerns on policing in the province with the Minister. Thus the entitlements accord with the province’s duty to respect, protect and promote fundamental rights of its residents”.
Mr Weyes said the Equality Court case judgment is expected by end November. The judgment could be used to inform environmental design and guidelines for visible policing in informal settlements. The Khayelitsha Commission recommended guidelines regulating visible policing of informal settlements be developed. These guidelines still do not exist and are not being developed. The constitutional obligation of SAPS towards communities is not contingent on where people live, whether there are roads and whether they have clearly identifiable addresses. Failure to provide a service like visible policing to residents of informal neighbourhoods, comparable to the service provided to wealthier formal housing, results in discrimination. Importantly, and not to be overlooked, the absence of guidelines for visible policing in informal neighbourhoods also places police officers at risk in these neighbourhoods.
Mr Weyers concluded that SA deserves a professional police service committed to intelligence-led, evidence-based and responsive policing. Police can have a real impact on crime if it approached the incidence of trio-crimes with adequate resources and sound crime-intelligence. SAPS can put an end to the call for deployment of the army in our communities by accounting for the frequency of gang violence and the size and nature of particular gangs and gang activities, and allocating resources accordingly. SAPS can have an impact on inter-personal violence by meaningfully engaging the known link between alcohol use and violence. SAPS can be more responsive if clear guidelines and criteria are developed to assist Provincial Commissioners in reallocating resources. Party-political interests should not be setting the police resources agenda. SAPS must immediately develop guidelines for the visible policing of informal settlements. All state organs have a “duty to respect, protect and promote fundamental rights”.
The Chairperson noted some presenters indicated the availability of regular stats was quite important – he asked the CSPS and SAPS where matters stood on the move towards producing quarterly stats. Regular stats were part of the solution in terms of low hanging fruits to inform sourcing and placements. He asked Stats SA what the latest developments were on SAPS stats moving towards an official stats status. He asked the National Commissioner what the status was moving forward to ensure the top 30 stations were addressed proactively.
Gen. Khehla Sitole, National Commissioner of Police, replied that the top 30 stations had inflated profiles up to the point that they have outgrown the resourcing capacity in those particular areas. The approach to dealing with these stations changed. Resources of all the top 30 would be upgraded in terms of migration of resources from the strategic framework right up to the local policing framework. This is intended to be done through the approved structure of the organisation. It would be important to monitor the profile growth of the particular stations. There were two stations which had the fastest growing profiles, namely Rustenburg, in the North West, and Witbank, in Mpumalanga.
Maj. Gen. TN Sekhukhune, SAPS Head: Crime Registrar, said population estimates were not used in the top 30 stations due to the fact that the district municipality population and areas policed by SAPS were not aligned. The population profile of the smaller station level changed at a much faster rate. The population estimates were only used at a national and provincial level where the victim of the crime was a person, e.g. murder, and was not used for a crime such as theft.
Mr Rapea indicated there was a Cabinet decision that crime stats would be released quarterly. This might be a matter for the Committee to take up with the Minister.
Gen. Sitole said approval was received from Cabinet to produce the quarterly stats. The diary now needed to be managed to present these stats.
Mr Ramatlakane noted the presentations all seemed to agree on the common downward trend but then a sudden spike in a particular financial year – it would be useful if SAPS could, at a later stage, respond to this analysis and provide reasons for the spike. This paradigm must be understood in order for it to be addressed. It was well and good to analyse the stats and numbers but there must be understanding of the contributory environmental design and context in which crime occurred – without this, the analysis was not helpful. Environmental design was a major contributory factor in reducing crime in certain areas – analysis cannot neglect this. Mushrooming of certain informal settlements and constraints this placed on policing cannot be dismissed as a non-issue in terms of effective policing. In some places, horses would not able to walk between the houses because of the high density– this had a negative impact on policing. Lighting plays a role in crime e.g. the proliferation of rape – for this, the municipality, or other departments, must be brought on board. He found the SJC to be dismissive of environmental design as a factor in policing. Policing was about a package of measures – the police do not construct roads and are not responsible for lighting. Even the proliferation of shebeens is a contributory factor in impeding effective policing. A lot can be said about the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry and weaknesses which led to the outcomes or recommendations which was informed by a political agenda. There was no silver bullet and a collective package of measures was required.
Dr Faull said the decline and uptake in murder are difficult to explain – the United States experienced a massive decline in the 90s and although the country has many amazing universities with lots of funding, the question as to what brought about the crime decline remained answered. While there were not firm answers on the murder rate, it is important to pay attention to it and have targeted interventions of which the effects can be assessed. There was some erosion of the criminal justice system at the time which was still recovering but he doubted this accounted for the uptake in murder.
Ms Anine Kriegler, University of Cape Town, added it was clear there was a spike in 2011/12 but this was not easy to explain as one wanted it to be – one of the reasons for this was that one did not have the data required at a station level. Everyone should have access to this data. In the US, crime patterns were explained through using the most detailed data available according to population, gender, age etc. This was urgently required on a station level.
Mr Weyers was in no way unsympathetic to environmental design factors that impact on a lack of safety and inability of SAPS to provide a service. The impact of lighting, which is a municipal responsibility, was highlighted as an impediment to the police and safety of communities. The SJC’s biggest campaign is upgrading of informal settlements to ensure they are dignified spaces in which citizens live and which were easier for the police to access and provide a service to.
Mr Maake cautioned the SJC by noting Parliament is comprised of different political parties so to highlight Mr Maimane and Ms Zille in a presentation was irrelevant to matters under discussion – doing so would cause trouble. Next time this would be debated instead of the content of the presentation itself. With the VOCS, it was said SA has around 6 million unrecorded migrants – was this included in the increases?
If not, the survey might not be a true reflection as there were millions of illegal migrants. Many illegal migrants were arrested daily for these crimes.
Dr Schmidt explained the sample included all households in SA irrespective of legal or illegal status. Migrants were asked about their victimisation experiences. Additionally, the Stats SA population estimates did not take into account the migration status of people in SA – the official estimates included all people living in the borders of SA.
An official from Stats SA added that on an annual basis, Stats SA received a request from SAPS to provide it with population status as at end September for national and provincial level to use as a denominator in the calculation of the crime stats. When engaging on an exercise like this it was very important to compare apples with apples – the apples here are to ensure the same population series is being used. Each one of the population estimates released annually can be viewed as a series. He reaffirmed the relationship between SAPS and Stats SA is a strong one and SAPS did not resist corrections offered by Stats SA. SAPS only made use of national and provincial estimates because the district (municipality) estimates used by SAPS was not compatible to the districts as defined by the Municipal Demarcation Board – it would be useful to align the two. When talking about population estimates, it is always difficult, and methods do not exist, to estimate the population on a small level, such as that of a station, on a year-by-year basis. He cautioned against applying a standard increment year-on-year as the population at one station might grow at a completely different rate of that another station. SAPS and Stats SA should work on this to perhaps develop a customised solution on how to deal with estimates at police station level. Regarding undocumented migrants, the census counted everybody regardless of migrant status. The estimates are updated by using the registration of births and deaths that the Department of Home Affairs collects along with other empirical sources. It is important to dispel the myth that the mid-year population estimates excludes undocumented migrants – this is absolutely untrue. Just last week the Statistician-General published a piece on the Africa Check website explaining how the migration statistics are compiled and dispels the notion that other nationalities are unaccounted for in the population estimates.
Ms Kriegler agreed that it was absolutely vital to have more precise population estimates for the station level. For example, it was seen the per murder capita in Phillip East was very high, as based on 2011 census data, but in 2011 Marikana informal settlements did not exist in Phillip East – the wrong population estimates was used in this precinct because there was nothing better. It is absolutely vital for Stats SA to work together with SAPS to produce more up to date estimates more frequently because without this, all analysis would be distorted.
Mr Mbhele wanted to know if it was still the case that murder was primarily, if not overwhelmingly, still a social fabric crime emanating from interpersonal violence, domestic conflicts etc and therefore rooted in family and social dysfunction. Were the recent increases mentioned in the crime stats a reflection of worsening social conditions and/or reflective of population increases given the context of murder prone communities? Or did the increases more reflect the commission of murder during violent organised crime, such as armed robbery, where murder piggybacked off violent, organised crime? To what extent was murder a police-able, preventable trend or was it a whole-of-society approach that was needed? Much of the feedback he received on station oversight visits when it came to murder, assault, rape, was that it was more a case of unleashing an army of social workers instead of law enforcers. Looking at the Stats SA presentation, in a number of slides there was discrepancy between the VOCS estimated trends vs. SAPS reported cases e.g. with home robberies, stock theft and culpable homicide, the survey indicated a decrease whereas SAPS reported cases showed an increase – what accounted for this discrepancy? Was it about the sample size or was it a perception matter?
Ms Omar responded that violence is such a huge issue in the country hence the White Paper on Safety Security did not only focus on crime prevention but crime and violence prevention. There are only 19 000 social workers in SA but there are more than 500 000 private security members – there is a huge discrepancy between the number of social workers in the country and the rate of violence.
Dr Schmidt said when looking at reported crime at police stations, there are two matters that play a role in the numbers which explained why many role players called for not using crime stats as an indicator of the effectiveness of SAPS. The decision to report influences the numbers reported i.e. the number does not only reflect an increase or decrease in crime but also the decision to report or not. As the public confidence in SAPS increased or decreased this indicated whether the public was more likely to report and this might be seen as an increase in the crime when it was actually just a higher propensity to report. The VOCS has a reasonably stable measurement in that it asked people if they were victimised and if they reported the crime or not. The weakness was that Stats SA was dealing with a cluster sample survey. Even the case of sexual assault was complicated in this regard as Stats SA was conducting the survey in a household context where the perpetrator might be sitting next to the victim while being asked if he/she was a victim of sexual assault. There were caveats in the survey data which explained why it was important to look at it together with the crime stats.
Dr Faull said with murder being a social fabric crime, additional analysis received from SAPS these days were helpful in understanding this. SAPS would say a lot of violence was still interpersonal. With the causes of murder, 22% was ascribed to gang violence – this was the largest category but gang violence was easier to identify as it occurred in public. The full 100% was not accounted for and he suspected most violence was still interpersonal, between people who know each other, as supported by the VOCS that most assault happened in the home. When it was said there is a need to target murder hotspots and work to reduce murder, this did not mean simply addressing people getting into potentially lethal fights – this meant holistic interventions that disrupt violence in the home. It was known that one in three children in SA have experienced violence at the hands of a parent or caregiver. 99% of children, followed in a massive Wits study in the greater Soweto area over 24 years, experienced violence in their lives. These are the factors to address to stop assault and murder of people who know each other. Addressing murder required more than just traditional policing.
Ms Kriegler reiterated her reading of docket analysis over the past 20 years showed the proportion of murders related to robbery has increased but it does still appear to be a minority. This could only be read on the national level because the docket analysis was only being done on the national level when it was actually needed at station level – what was happening in Rondebosch is obviously not happening in Philippi East. She asked Stats SA if there were any changes in its methodology of the VOCS over the last three years. She asked this because some of the crime patterns seen were very surprising, for example, vehicle theft cases and the huge jump in one year for house robberies in Limpopo. On the point of the CSPS relating to petty crimes, on an international level, there was a strong movement away from close policing of petty crimes to say petty crimes should be taken out of the criminal justice system entirely into an administrative sphere. Many of the youth involved in petty crimes should not come into contact with a police officer but rather a social worker.
Ms Omar responded that the point was not to ignore petty offences or to say it was a policing problem – the point was to look at how to divert petty offences to deescalate the crime.
Gen. Sitole said current variables used for allocation of resources included the crime rate and population. As part of the turnaround strategy, he instructed the total review of all variables or criteria used to allocate resources including review of the personnel plan. There would also be integration with the community policing strategy to include the input of communities to improve the criteria for deployment of resources. All criteria would be national to float down the levels. A structured, integrated approach was required to speak to the national crime prevention framework – this approach would also need to be linked across the borders to include intercontinental structures.
Ms Kohler Barnard was interested in what SAPS was doing in terms of awarding stations for bringing down crime in the area i.e. turning citizens away for reporting a crime. She did oversight at Newlands East station last week, despite the Acting Provincial Commissioner forbidding it, where the station turned away a journalist who tried to report a missing person – the journalist was a strong woman who stood her ground until a Commander arrived to open the case. The Member knew the stations were given instructions not to open cases and this was linked to the crime stats. Some stations were lauded with monetary rewards. It was good news that 17 serious community-reported crimes had decreased but there must be a strategy for murder – it was now up to 57 murders a day. In terms of strategy, how many illegal firearms were destroyed in the last year? Illegal firearms were obviously picked up at crime scenes but she was worried stations were becoming firearm ATMs – members have never been under such threat where people could just stroll in to a station with AK47s and no protection was provided by the Department of Public Works. Was the destruction of illegal firearms higher or lower than the previous year? What other strategies were there? With sexual offences, which of the organisations presenting today actually worked with the NGOs who deal with this on the ground and where women would much rather go than to a station? Some NGOs said only one in ten or 20 raped women reported it to the police. The increased number of reported rape showed maybe victims were becoming more comfortable with the Victim-Friendly Rooms – the Member visited some of these Rooms which were marvellous, run by outside people and felt comforting. There must be strategies to improve reporting rates of sexual offences. While knowing the number of crimes and arrested were crucial, it seemed SAPS did not focus sufficiently on the conviction rate – should the crime, arrest and conviction not be given equal weight in the analysis? Often success was claimed with the conviction rate but it was not in relation to the overall crime committed but to detection rates which might be very low. Where was SAPS’ focus in this regard? To Stats SA, she was interested in the number of citizens who paid for insurance compared to the number of crimes reported – it is assumed as the number of people who insured their possessions increased, the report of the crime would also increase as a CAS number was needed to initiate a claim. Has such research been done? To SAPS, given the amount set aside for civilian claims, R6.5 billion in the last report, was the SAPS members who committed these crimes part of these stats? She feared there was a parallel justice system where these members get a SAPS’ slap on the wrist and a letter in their file but do not go through the legal process. Were SAPS members truly held accountable in this regard or were the recommendations of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) simply being ignored? To the National Commissioner, she asked how open he was, unlike his predecessors, to working with the institutions such as those who have presented today in terms of plugging into their expertise and using the information. The analysis by the ISS was amazing – for SAPS to plug into this and use the information on just the poor performing stations, could turn the stats around for next year. The Member has seen these organisations treated poorly by previous National Commissioners. Two weeks ago the Member was at Sophia Town station where, according to the RAG, the station had less than 50% of the staff it should have – this was a high-crime area with the most brilliant Station Commander but she was running on fumes. Were the resource allocations only done on the estimated population or was it based on crime stats or a combination of both?
Dr Schmidt said Stats SA did not look at the number of people paying for insurance compared to the number of cases reported – this is something to look at. Recently a question of vehicle ownership was included in the survey to get the denominator of hijackings.
Dr Faull, commenting on the equal weighting of crime, arrest and conviction, cautioned against placing any weight on crime in general – particular types of crime in particular precincts can be weighted but simply rewarding or punishing based on certain fluctuations and trends would set up too many perverse incentives. The same with arrests – it was easy to arrest people but much harder to arrest people legitimately. If people were awarded for arrest this could significantly erode the relationship between the state and those being arrested. Conviction was also not a simple indicator. A Harvard criminologist suggested real success in crime control would not produce big annual reductions in crime because this is only possible when crime is already out of control. Real crime management required skilful engagement of societal problems, spotting things before they get out of control and working with communities. These are difficult to measure by way of performance management and one must be careful of what measurement indices incentivised.
Gen. Sitole appreciated all the organisations presenting positively today and said the presentations assisted SAPS in responding to the crimes. There was no need for SAPS to take a defensive position today. There was however no coordinated strategic approach to deal with the analysis. He reiterated the call of former President Mandela in the preamble of the national crime prevention strategy for all to work together in a united fashion to provide a collective response. He proposed conveying of all organisations at a further level to coordinate a strategic approach to deal with the matters. This would involve the fusion centred concept to speak to a modus operandi analysis database and root cause analysis. He observed the stats analysis did not speak to modus operandi analysis or root cause analysis – this explained how and why environmental design must be included in the analysis. If a municipality allowed uncontrolled development to take place, the area would soon become a no-go zone because it could not be accessed – crime would soon escalate, the police could not respond and confidence in the police fell even though development was not within the mandate of SAPS. This required a coordinated and integrated approach to reform the response. Most of the findings coming from the analysis today would also need to be discussed in the Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster to deal with the matters in a cluster approach.
Ms P Mmola (ANC) asked the SJC what it meant when it said the police are not where gangs are – according to its analysis, what was the police focusing on? She asked the SJC if it had proof of what Ms Zille and Minister Cele said before bringing it to the Committee. When the Committee conducted oversight it was not reporting to the SJC or others – how did it know about all these matters? Why was only the oversight conducted by the DA highlighted? She then asked if the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between SAPS and Stats SA was still operational and if there was good cooperation between SAPS and Stats SA. Did the SAPS crime stats reach the SA Statistical Quality Assessment Framework Self-Assessment stage?
Mr Weyers responded that the statement that the police are not where the gangs are was based on some of the findings of the CSPS – the Secretariat did not pointedly say this but did find when looking at gangs, police nationally, in their theoretical resource requirements, were simply asking if there were gangs or not in a community instead of responding to whether the community has had multiple gang murders in the last year, if the community had gangs operating in the area, the number, the size and economy behind these gangs to establish a nuanced insight into what those gang dynamics are in any given police precinct and allocating resources accordingly. His comments on oversight in the Western Cape was not to diminish the oversight powers of the Committee – he was alluding to the power of Premiers in the provinces afforded to them by section 206 (3) of the Constitution in terms of an oversight role. While he was critical of Ms Zille and Mr Maimane, to the credit of Ms Zille, she has taken up the oversight role and was pushing it. If the Western Cape was not an outlier in terms of police resources, one must ask where the other Premiers were of provinces that were supremely under resourced in raising this matter with SAPS at a national level.
Dr Schmidt answered that SAPS and Stats SA have a very close working relationship and the process was still underway to get the SAPS data classified as official statistics – currently meetings are underway to put together a steering committee to have the official SASQAF assessment done before the end of the financial year. The mini self-assessment was done partly on the 2017/18 data and the absolute numbers were signed off on with regards to the quality assessment.
Maj. Gen. Sekhukhune confirmed the relationship between SAPS and Stats SA was still intact and there were meetings held. There are six stages of engagement to undertake – the fifth stage was successfully completed which was the self-assessment working towards an independent, data quality team with Stats SA and other institutions to take the process through the final independent assessment. If the stats were not declared as official by the Statistician-General, recommendations for improvement would be made on the SAPS statistical value chain.
Ms Kohler Barnard asked if this meant the crime stats released by SAPS over the past years were not considered official statistics by Stats SA. She could not believe this.
Dr Schmidt responded that Stats SA worked closely with SAPS. The new structure put in place by SAPS for collection etc was as a result of close collaboration. The process was working towards official declaration by the Statistician-General but this was a long process – it was hoped to be completed by the end of the financial year. Stats SA worked closely with SAPS as it prepared the 2017/18 crime stats as part of the process but none of the statistics were declared as official.
Ms Kriegler said it was worth noting that the UK crime stats lost its official status in 2014 so it is not only a South African problem of police stats meeting the standards of official stats.
Ms Molebatsi was also perturbed that the SJC chose to highlight the visit conducted by Mr Maimane – the Minister has, more than once, visited Nyanga police station. The Committee also visited Nyanga police station so why has the SJC specifically highlighted the visit paid by Mr Maimane? She asked the SJC what it found about the collusion of criminals with Magistrates and prosecutors. To SAPS, she asked what factors it considered in its allocation of resources. Most violent cases happened during weekends and at night according to the presentations – did SAPS have senior Station Commanders visiting stations during this time? She sought more information on the manner in which crime stats were applied to fight crime.
Mr Weyers said the SJC is a non-partisan social movement and an equal opportunity critic. It currently has two cases before the Equality Court in Cape Town, one being the police resources court case, directed at SAPS nationally under an ANC government, and another case on the provision of sanitation to informal settlements in townships in the City of Cape Town, under a DA government. He would not apologise for quoting various political figures in this forum because communities are now being confronted with campaigning in the build up to next year’s election. Given the fear communities felt and experienced in SA, this was too easily used to inform the way in which residents might vote – the SJC would call this out especially when what it is being said is wrong and does not hold up to the facts. When the presentation highlighted Zille and Maimane, this was the SJC being critical of them saying the Western Cape was under resourced when the reality was this was not the case – the Western Cape is not an outlier as other police precincts in other provinces have it far worse than precincts in the Western Cape.
The Chairperson asked if the CSPS participated in the Victims of Crime Survey and, as advisor to the Minister, if it presented a memo on this to the Minister.
Mr Rapea noted he had a meeting with the community of Nyanga at the police station on Monday where community members said there was no government in Nyanga. The emphasis was on practical implementation of the White Paper on Policing at local government level – the police could not do everything and needed to focus on policing. A separate presentation on the VOCS was not made to the Minister. The research reports of the Secretariat referred to some of the studies. The information was also infused into policy reports of the CSPS.
Ms Omar added that the CSPS participated in the development of the questionnaire for the VOCS and attended the release of the survey.
Gen. Sitole said SAPS just launched a community policing strategy of which crime perception management was an integral part. The biggest outcome of the crime stats was to prevent crimes from occurring which would allow for less analysis. SAPS had just returned from Vienna, Austria, where the ISS was also present, and it was found that many studies where done on SA in Austria on transnational organised crime. Again, the importance of a coordinated and structured approach was required. It was recommended there should be a transitional coordinated process.
Ms Kohler Barnard recalled that the Minister promised that Visible Policing would be stressed to ensure officers were taken out of the offices and put on the streets, as seen during the 2010 Fifa World Cup, however this was still not done. One did not see patrol vehicles or SAPS members out on the street patrolling – was this being worked on and would it happen? Or were there too few SAPS members and reservists to do this?
Gen. Sitole replied that the Minister was correct. There was a time when national stabilisation was called for members to get out of the office. The public acknowledged it saw the police. Following the national stabilisation, a geographic approach was followed to ensure stabilisation. The geographic approach included Operation Thunder, in the Western Cape. Seeing police in the streets would be hotspot driven through a geographic approach. SAPS were far from reaching the average, national ratio as prescribed by the United Nations. As a result, a business case was formulated. The business case involved increasing the numbers to balance the average minimum requirement of the population ratio. The beefing up of the capacity of reservists was also being considered to augment visibility. The “country in blue” concept would be used during the festive season.
The Chairperson concluded by noting the meeting was important as after the release of each crime stats, the Committee must reflect on what was occurring. The Committee welcomed the quality assurance process brought about by the partnership between SAPS and Stats SA – the further graduation of this process was anticipated. The anticipated quarterly release of crime stats was also important to ensure trends were identified early and detection and the necessary allocation of resources can then occur. The input of civil society was appreciated. There must be the necessary shifting of resources to the precincts which required assistance especially the top 30 stations to function optimally – without this the necessary impact on crime-ridden communities would not be seen. The Committee appreciated the words of the National Commissioner that SAPS would coordinate efforts with the organisations present today – a silo approach would not build much success.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Social Justice Coalition - South Africa deserves a professional police service committed to intelligence-led, evidence-based and responsive policing
- Civilian Secretariat - SAPS2017/18 Crime Stats Perspective
- Stats SA: Victims of Crime Survey 2017/18
- Institute for Security Studies: South Africa’s Crime Statistics, 2017/18
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