Crime stats present mixed picture

Community safety plans include an instructive webinar, where farm and neighbourhood watches will have the opportunity to learn how to become accredited organisations, thus enabling access to resources. Pictured is a farm road in the Raithby area, between Somerset West and Stellenbosch.

Nationally, crime stats
released by Police Minister,
Bheki Cele on Friday July
31, present a mixed picture, with
contact crimes up in four categories, but down in four others, for the
period April 1 2019 to March 31. 

In this period, 21 325 murders were recorded, 303 more
than the previous year, a 1.4%
increase, robbery with aggravating
circumstances increased by 2.8% to
143 990 cases, carjacking and truck
hijacking recorded an increase of
13.3% and 1.7% respectively, while
sexual crimes showed an increase
of 1.7%, to 53 293 cases, 873 more
than the year before. 

By contrast, property-related
crimes decreased significantly with
5.2%, or 25 927 cases, less than the
year before, specifically burglary
at residential premises, down by
6.7%, and residential properties
down by 5.8%, and in the same
period, cash-in-transit robberies
were down 10.4% and attempted
murder down 1.4%. 

Closer to home, and within
Bolander’s distribution, the stats
for major areas present a mixed
picture, which differs from the
national picture. 

In Somerset West for example,
although crimes against the person
are down 1.7% overall, murder
is up 32.8% (20), sexual offences
43.5% (30), and attempted murder 37% (10), common robbery
6%, and robbery with aggravating
circumstances 13.2% (36) over the
period. 

Macassar, by contrast, which
recorded an overall increase of 1%
in contact crimes, saw a decline in
murder of 27.8% (5), attempted
murder 11.1% (1), and robbery
with aggravating circumstances,
27.3% (44), but increases of 28.6%
(8) in sexual offences, 7.9% (19)
assault with the intent to inflict
grievous bodily harm, common
assault 7.2% and common robbery
(26), and 9.7% (6). 

Commenting on the crime stats
in these two precincts, Sub-council 24 chair, Stuart Pringle said:
“The continued increase in sexual
crimes remains a major concern
across both precincts.
“While welcoming the overall
decrease in contact crimes in Somerset West, the increase in murders
and attempted murders remains
of concern. Similarly, the overall
increase in contact crimes in the
Macassar precinct is of concern,”
he added. 

“The overall slight decrease in
property related crimes is to be welcomed, and I would like to thank
the Neighbourhood Watches for
the role they play in assisting the
SAPS in protecting residential
areas and the city improvement
district in the Somerset West CBD
for its efforts in assisting SAPS in
protecting business premises. 

“As the sub-council we will continue to support the neighbourhood watches with equipment
funded by the ward allocations
and continue the funding of the
additional City law enforcement
officers in the Somerset West CBD. We have also requested for this
financial year that mayoral urban
regeneration funding be used to
employ safety ambassadors from
the Neighbourhood Watches to
increase visibility and better protect municipal buildings. 

As the population of Sir Lowry’s Pass Village continues to
increase there is a growing need
for the satellite police station there
to be upgraded to a fully-fledged
police station, and the sub-council
again calls on the national police
minister to give serious consideration to this call. The decrease in crimes
detected as a result of police action
in both precincts is of major concern, and I trust that plans will
be put in place to increase police
operations so that this statistic can
be increased. 

The sub-council will continue
to fund the installation of CCTV
cameras across the ward to assist
with identifying and covering existing hotspots.
“I have also offered, via the Community Police Forum, to arrange
another meeting between City law
enforcement and SAPS to consider
how enhanced cooperation might
improve both these agencies operations,” said Mr Pringle. 

Somerset West Community
Police Forum chair, Billy Smith,
had this to say: “Crime in Somerset
West has declined and this can be
attributed to the curfews as well
as effective neighbourhood watch
patrols. The police, through the stats,
identity hotspots and focus on
these areas. Our local police strategise their
policing efforts where high (levels
of) crime occurs. We also need to
thank our local security companies
who contribute immensely with
their patrols. 

Crime has no borders and
we as a community can assist the
police by increasing our own vigilance and by joining the local
neighbourhood watch.
“Gender-based violence is still
a concern and very difficult to
police. This normally occurs within
households. I wish to urge our community
to please remain aware and vigilant
as it remains a scourge in our community. Business break-ins is also
of concern,” said Mr Smith. 

“There has also of late, been an
increase in car thefts, Mainly the
older models of cars,” he added. 

Commenting on the stats for
the precincts within Sub-council 8 (Strand, Gordon’s Bay and
Lwandle), chair Chantel Cerfontein said: “I am pleased to
see there are many decreases in
our crime statistics and with the
involvement with community stakeholders, organisations, Neighbourhood Watches and so forth, much
more could be done to improve
our figures. 

“The City also plays a vital role in
ensuring projects and programmes
are being rolled out in our communities to deal with many social
ill matters, drug addicts, home-base
carers for the elderly but, due to
lockdown many of our services had
to seize,” said Ms Cerfontein. 

“Ward councillors have allocated funding for many youth
activities, skills development and
employment of extended public
works programme projects in their
respective wards. As a precinct, our efficient and
effective team of staff and officials do everything to ensure these
projects reach our communities
given the difficult circumstances
in which we find ourselves in with
limited resources,” she added. 

Stellenbosch executive mayor,
Gesie van Deventer, commenting
on the crime stats for her area
said: “The rise in especially contact
crime is deeply concerning and it
affects every single person in our
community. As a local government, our law
enforcement unit’s primary function is enforcing municipal by-laws. We support SAPS whenever
they need us and request our assistance. We also work closely with
SAPS and other safety and security partners to contribute, and
enhance visual policing as much
as possible. To that effect, we have boosted
our numbers with an additional 19
peace officers earlier this year. Council has also approved a
policy that will allow for an auxiliary volunteer force and another
policy that will allow for organisations to fund law enforcement
officials. Both of these policies are
geared towards putting more feet
on the ground and creating a
greater visible law enforcement
presence,” said Ms Van Deventer. 

Cape Winelands District Municipality (CWDM) executive mayor,
Dr Elna von Schlicht, spoke of stats
for precincts within her jurisdiction, with reference to the anticipated impact of Covid-19, and mitigating measures that that are being
put in place. 

“It is heartening to see that several forms of crime have reduced
in frequency, however, the impact
of Covid-19 on our economy is still
to be seen. We are very concerned that
lack of employment caused by
job losses in the wine, tourism
and related industry, due to the
extended lockdown, will lead to
increased crime as citizens become
more desperate. Increased crime rates will, in
the long term, affect our ability to
rejuvenate our economy. The CWDM is committed to
economic rejuvenation and job
creation; this is evidenced through
our support of SMMEs, local tourism associations and related programmes,” she said.

“Further projects include developing private public partnerships,
where the aim is specifically to
address the reduction of risk in our
communities.
“Another very exciting project
is the role-out of our community safety plan which includes an
instructive webinar, where farm
and neighbourhood watches, will
have the opportunity to learn
how to become accredited organisations, thus enabling access to
resources. Through the development of
a strong economic sector in a safe
and well-resourced environment,
we can reduce the incidence of
crime, which in turn, will allow for
visitors and citizens to be safe while
in the Cape Winelands,” said Ms
Von Schlicht.