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Parly police committee calls for review of policing after crime stats

The committee said it’s unacceptable that there’s a general increase in crime every year, but no cutting-edge strategies to fight it.

Police Minister Bheki Cele addresses community members in Jeppestown following unrest on 2 September 2019. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - Parliament’s police portfolio committee has called for a review of policing in South Africa following the release of alarming crime statistics.

The committee said it’s unacceptable that there was a general increase in crime every year, but no cutting-edge strategies to fight it.

The statement follows Thursday morning’s briefing on the latest crime statistics by Police Minister Bheki Cele and senior police management.

It’s not only the police committee calling for more effort and better crime-fighting strategies from the police.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has also given police an ambitious target to halve violent crimes in the next decade.

Cele said: “As the police service, we aim to achieve this goal in the shortest possible time. Therefore, all our resources and operational strategies have been channelled accordingly to reach these targets.”

The latest stats show 21,022 people were murdered between April last year and March this year and 52,420 were victims of sexual offences.

The committee has also suggested police look into increasing deployment over weekends - the time period during which most murders are committed.

And while the police service mulled over bringing back the murder and robbery units to deal with the continued rise of the crimes, experts said a more holistic approach was needed.

Senior researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation Steven Rebello said the socio-economic issues in the country, including its violent history, should be considered when assessing the crime problem.

“More and more research shows that there is no direct link between unemployment and, for example, homicide. I think inequality also needs to come into play. Our economic climate and gross rate are poor.”

Meanwhile, Institute of Security Studies’ Gareth Newham said the public also had a role to play in aiding the situation.

“The root problem is that we have high levels of violence in our homes.”

Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole said the service would go back to the drawing board, taking inspiration from some of the crime-prevention initiatives which have worked in categories such as cash heists and bank robberies.