DA: Crime stats cold comfort for law-abiding citizens

The “minuscule” decrease in crime is not an indication that government was doing everything it can to keep South Africans safe, the DA said in response to the latest crime statistics released in Parliament today.

“These incremental changes are cold comfort to law-abiding citizens who live in fear of criminals,” said Democratic Alliance spokesman Dianne Kohler-Barnard.

Kohler-Barnard said four key crime categories — murder, sexual offences, aggravated robbery, and residential robbery — showed an average decrease of only 1.43 percent, compared to 5.7 percent last year.

“Virtually no decrease [only 0.26 percent] was experienced in ‘aggravated robbery’, compared to a 10.8 percent decrease in this category last year,” she said.

Murder dropped by just 331 – with 15,609 citizens murdered last year.

Besides the distinct lack of progress in these serious crime categories, the DA had grave concerns about “the manipulation of statistics to paint a rosy picture”.

Kohler-Barnard said certain categories of crime, such as domestic violence, gang-related violence, and violent public protests had been absorbed into larger categories “in an effort to hide the real situation on the ground”, she said.

“For example, domestic violence is subsumed under common assault and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

“This makes it difficult to determine the precise number of domestic violence incidents which occur, and whether we are winning the fight against domestic abuse.”

The DA also had questions about the validity and reliability of the crime statistics.

“National police commissioner Riah Phiyega admitted that there is no independent audit of the statistics. This means that we can’t determine whether the procedure followed in collating the statistics is valid,” she said.

It was time for an independent body to take control of the crime statistics away from the police, Kohler-Barnard said.

The latest statistics were also up to 18-months-old. The DA wanted to see real-time crime statistics made available to the public at station level.

This would not only give the public information on the nature and extent of crime in their areas, but would also allow the SA Police Service to tailor local responses relevant to present-day realities.

“The DA will be writing to [Mthethwa] today to ask that the statistics reporting system be modified to include specific problematic categories of crime such as:

  • Domestic violence;
  • Gang-related violence;
  • Attacks on farms;
  • Cybercrime involving both our financial institutions and individual citizens;
  • Public protests and violence.

“We will also ask for these statistics to be independently audited,” she said.

Mthethwa and Phiyega should not pat themselves on the back for “meagre progress”.

“South Africans will certainly not feel any safer as a result of these crime statistics,” she said.