WESTERN Cape Community Safety minister Albert Fritz is deeply concerned that murders in the Western Cape have increased by 11.2% compared to the previous quarter for the period October to December 2020. This follows the release of the National Third Quarter Crime Statistics on February 19.
Said Fritz: “The under-resourcing of police stations in hotspots remains a major cause of concern and I call on [national Police] minister Cele to urgently address this issue, which has been brought to his attention many times.
“We cannot have a skewed and inequitable national system of resource allocation that continues to disadvantage communities most in need of the SAPS. I reiterate my previous call for the entire system of resource allocation to be reviewed and modernised.”
Having received the analysis on third-quarter crime statistics, Fritz noted that during the period under review, the Law Enforcement Advance Plan (LEAP) officers, appointed through the Western Cape Safety Plan, were redeployed to five crime hotspots and played a significant role in reducing violent crime.
“Previously, our LEAP officers were deployed on a rotational basis, responding to Covid-19 compliance, land invasions and gang-related shootings, while working to support SAPS in hotspot areas.
“Overall, it must be noted that crime has decreased by 12.1% (12,424) from 102,484 in Quarter 3 of 2019/20 to 90,060 in 2020/1. Community-reported serious crimes and total crimes detected as a result of police action decreased by 10.2% and 20.1% respectively.”
Fritz added: “A decrease in crime stats in three consecutive quarters is encouraging as it suggests a reduction in crime levels crime in the province, notwithstanding underreporting. It provides an opportunity to improve trust between communities and the police in our efforts to foster community cohesion and promote safety.”
He said further that the release of quarterly statistics is an improvement on previous practices of only giving such figures on an annual basis, and that it would assist in the fight against violence crimes like murder in the province.
Western Cape murder stats
The Western Cape accounts for 11 of the top 30 murder stations in the county, all 11 of them within the City of Cape Town, and having recorded more than half (579) of the total murders (1,134) in the top-30 police stations.
Kraaifontein police precinct had the highest reported murders in the country and in the province with 84 murders, marking a 100% increase from 42 reported the previous year. Delft follows with 80 murders for the period under review. Attempted murder increased by 15.5% (50) from 322 in Quarter 3 of 2019/20 to 372 in 2020/1 at the 11 priority areas.
The top-10 stations in the province accounted for 48.3% (548) of murders. In line with the 11.2% increase in murder in the province, overall murders at these stations increased by 36.7% (147) from 401 to 548.
In all top-10 police stations murder increased, except in Gugulethu, where an 11.3% (14) decrease was recorded. Worryingly, Manenberg and Harare were the two stations showing the highest increase, at 311.1% and 120% respectively.
“There has been an 11.2% increase in murders compared to the previous quarter. An emerging trend is that violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder and sexual offences increased in the third quarter, whereas property related crimes showed decreases,” said Fritz.
While the majority of murders are caused by interpersonal violence (163), the most significant contributors towards the increase in murders in the third quarter were gang-related (187), and retaliation or revenge (129).
Fritz added: “Third-quarter crime statistics further coincided with Level 1 of the nationwide lockdown as part of the Covid-19 crisis response, alcohol sales being allowed until December 28, when the country moved to Level 3, banning the sale and dispensing of liquor and imposing a curfew from 9pm to 6am.
“The abuse of alcohol can be seen as a causal factor in the increase in murders. This again emphasises the importance of targeted interventions to reduce alcohol-related crime in the Western Cape.”
Redeployment of LEAP into five crime hotspots
As part of the Western Cape Safety Plan, 500 LEAP officers have been deployed to these crime hotspots, and they have played a significant role in assisting SAPS in their crime fighting endeavours. During the period under review, LEAP were redeployed to Delft, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Bishop Lavis, and Hanover Park (Philippi).
Bishop Lavis had decreases of 44% in murder, 10% in attempted murder, 19.7% in common assault and 33.8% on robbery aggravated. Philippi recorded a decrease in the following categories: sexual offences (33.3%), common assault (25.8%), common robbery (57.9%) and robbery aggravated (16.7%). Delft recorded a 41.7% decrease in common robberies. Khayelitsha experienced a 21.3% increase in murder, 34.8% in attempted murder, 29.8% in sexual offences, and 22.3% in aggravated robbery. Nyanga experienced the highest increases with 26.1% murder, 35.7% attempted murder, 15.6% common assault, 20.7% common robbery and 32.2% aggravated robbery.
Of the five LEAP priority stations, contact crime decreased in Philippi and Bishop Lavis. Reported murders increased in all five LEAP priority areas except, in Bishop Lavis which had a 44% decrease. Attempted murders decreased in Bishop Lavis and Delft with 10% and 1.9% respectively.
Contact crime changes at deployment areas (2019/20 and 2020/1 October-December)
Fritz said: “While LEAP were not long deployed in the hotspots during the period under review, we can see some changes compared to the previous quarter which can be attributed to their deployment.”
It is envisaged that a further 500 LEAP officers and 400 Safety Ambassadors will be deployed in the Cape Metro by the end of the financial year.
Disconcerting increases were seen in the sexual offenses - rape, sexual assault, attempted sexual offences and contact sexual offences - equating a 2% increase compared to the previous quarter. Additionally, rape increased by 7.6%, attempted sexual offences increased by 12.9% and contact sexual offences by 8.6%. Attempted sexual offences decreased by 15.4%.
Fritz said: “The Western Cape accounted for 26.2% (6,446) of domestic-related crimes in the country (24,565). The province is the highest in terms of domestic murder, rape, sexual offences and aggravated residential robbery. Overall, females and males accounted for 76.5% and 23.5% respectively of the total selected domestic crime in the country (24,565).”
Fritz has previously noted that he would raise the reports of backlogs in processing of DNA at the forensic science laboratories (FSL) at the upcoming MinMec, as this would ensure that cases were not needlessly struck off the court roll.
The violence-prevention component of the Western Cape Safety Plan is crucial in efforts to halve the murder rate in the province, because a major part of it focusses on interventions that deal with psycho-social problems facing communities.
These include dealing with underlying challenges such as inter-generational trauma, inability to deal with conflict, abuse of substances, and more.
Fritz said: “Ultimately, the Western Cape Safety Plan will see us develop an integrated and holistic approach that strengthens law enforcement and society’s resilience to violent crime at all levels. We will particularly focus on the top-10 stations to reduce murder in the province.”
He explained that the key to the implementation of the integrated law-enforcement and violence-prevention arms of the Safety Plan was the establishment of 16 area-based teams (ABTs) across the top murder stations in the Metro and the broader province.
“The violence prevention component of the Safety Plan will coordinate activities and strategies with the law enforcement part to ensure that we put in place integrated interventions informed by data and evidence. We are using data and evidence to ensure that the interventions are based on the real local drivers of murder and violence.
“We will further ensure that young people receive the necessary support to put them on pathway to responsible adulthood where they can draw on and become positive role models.”
Fritz continued: “Our ABTs will be brought together in an outcomes-based way, including all key provincial government departments, their municipal counterparts, and local community structures such as CPFs, faith-based organisations and NGOs with a track record of delivery in the field of violence prevention.”
Fritz pledged to continue working with and building strong relationships with the SAPS through ABTs, saying this ongoing partnership was already on a steady footing and that it would result in the decline of the violence and murder rates in the province.