The quarterly crime statistics presented by Police Minister Bheki Cele today, revealed a shocking 20.7% increase in murders between July and September this year. On average, 67.7 people were murdered in these three months compared to 56.1 people murdered in the same period last year.
Murder is not the only crime that has shot up. Sexual assault, attempted murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and common assault have also risen.
Crimes against women and children have seen a rapid rise with child murders increasing by a shocking 31.7%. It is a catastrophic failure of the state that 105 people were raped every day. That’s more than 4 people every hour, and these statistics only reflects the cases that are reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) as the vast majority of rapes and other sexual crimes are never reported.
These shameful statistics show that SAPS is fighting a losing battle and present the perfect opportunity for President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Minister Bheki Cele immediately. There is simply no good reason to keep Minister Cele in Cabinet. The President committed to halving violent crime in his first term of office. If the violent crime stats continue to rise at this rate he is more likely to double violent crime than halve it.
This failure of SAPS to implement their own crime prevention strategy and take control of ransom at criminality comes as no surprise as the police have been forced to fight crime with their hands tied for many years. Power struggles between those in the top ranks and the Minister have hampered effective policing. Poor management and training, poor maintenance of vital equipment and wide-spread corruption within SAPS have further hobbled and demoralized those officials trying to protect the country and all those living within its borders.
If these statistics do not show President Cyril Ramaphosa how much of a liability Minister Cele is to SAPS and all of South Africa, maybe he should rewatch the devastation of the July riots in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. SAPS’ sheer incompetence was broadcast to the world and Minister Cele’s blundering has never been clearer for all to see. It is time for the President to appoint a Police Minister whose competence outweighs their hubris – a hard find within ANC ranks, but something South Africa desperately needs none the less.
South Africans deserve better than a police service which cannot hope to make a dent in the serious crimes they are meant to investigate because it lacks the capacity and equipment to do so. We deserve better than a top-heavy police force so weighed down by generals whose exorbitant salaries slurp up most of the budget, while those officials meant to fight crime have to struggle to survive and provide for their families. South Africans deserve better than what the national ANC government is trying to spin once again through bluster and arrogance.
If Minister Cele was serious about challenging the tsunami of crime sweeping the nation, he would have brought the DNA Amendment Bill to Parliament two years ago. His and his predecessor’s delay caused almost 100 000 convicted schedule 8 offenders to be released on parole since January 2016 without their DNA being sampled and added to the National Forensic DNA Database of Convicted Offenders.
The ANC government is clearly incapable of running a professional, efficient, and effective police force that will keep South Africans safe. It is high time that SAPS is devolved and that capable local and provincial governments take over the function of policing to better serve and protect local communities.