Govt concerned with increases in some crimes

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cape Town - While encouraged by notable decreases in five of seven contact crimes, government remains concerned with the increase in robbery with aggravated circumstances, sexual offences, stock theft and commercial crime.

"The four areas as reflected in the statistics report with which we are particularly unhappy are: robbery with aggravated circumstances, sexual offences, stock theft and commercial crime," said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Tuesday.

He said these increases had dampened their enthusiasm regarding the overall decrease in contact crimes.

Mthethwa was speaking ahead of the release of the South African Police Service's crime statistics for the period 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009.

"In assessing aggravated robberies, there are three areas which account for the increase. These areas are business robberies, house robberies and hijackings. Of the three areas mentioned, the highest increase was recorded in the area of business robberies."

Business robbery cases increased by 41.5 percent when compared to the previous year, house robberies increased by 27.3 percent and truck and car hijackings increased by 15.4 percent and 5 percent respectively.

The minister described house robberies as one of the crimes that "are the most intrusive and personalise the crime experience". Government could simply not tolerate a situation where people do not feel safe in their homes.

Another area that requires government's attention is the increase in commercial crime which increased by 16 percent.

"Of further concern is that this increase is accompanied by an increase in the amount of money involved. Clearly this is an area that requires more focused attention by both business and government," said the minister.

He noted that the number of incidents of sexual offences increased by 10.1 percent, another figure government was unhappy about. However, he had been heartened by the slight decline in crimes against women and children.

"Nevertheless, we are still not satisfied. Violence against women and children is still prevalent in our society," he said.

Assistant Commissioner, Dr Chris de Kok said the high figure could be attributed to the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act, which has changed the definition of rape.

"Abduction and assault can be included as a sexual offence and this explains the increase," said Dr de Kok. He further said that the first real and valid comparisons in sexual offences could only be made in a few months.

Cash-in-transit robberies, which have been a major focus for the police in recent years, declined by 2.3 percent.

"This we agree is not much of a decrease as compared to the same period in the previous year, it is a decrease nevertheless," said the minister.

He said that the release of the crime statistics was aimed at not only quantifying crime, but calling government and all stakeholders to action.