Murder, hijacking, robbery escalate

Latest stats show downward trend in vehicle theft and sexual offences Serious crimes such as murder, hijacking and house robbery have increased across the Eastern Cape over the past financial year.

This was revealed in the latest crime statistics released by the police yesterday. The Eastern Cape’s increase in serious crime comes in the wake of a downtrend in other crimes such as sexual crimes, theft of cars and burglaries. The figures were released yesterday when police top brass briefed the parliamentary portfolio committee on crime figures, trends and issues plaguing the police force. During the briefing, police crime research and statistics head Major-General Norman Sekhukhune said about two million charges had been laid at police stations across the country, of which about 1.7 million were categorised as serious. Previous annual statistics of 3 321 murders in the province had increased to 3 649 during the past financial year. Sekhukhune said the analysis showed that most of the murders had happened indoors and involved people who knew each other, referring to some as being domestic violence-related incidents. He said alcohol had played a major role. Provincially, murders are up by 9.9%, attempted murder by 12%, house robberies by 13.4%, hijackings by 24% and cash-in-transit robberies by 90%. Reported incidents were 1 832 cases of attempted murder reported in 2014/15 and 2 052 during 2015/16, 1 811 cases of house robberies reported in 2014/15 which increased to 2 054 cases, while 769 hijackings were reported in 2014/15 and climbed to 956 incidents. Business robberies are down by 10.3% from 2 474 cases in 2014/15 to 2 218 reported in 2015/16. Cash-in-transit robberies are up by 90%, from 10 incidents in 2014/15 to 19 cases over the 2015/16 period.

Other crimes which spiked were truck hijackings that increased from 34 incidents in 2014/15 to 54 reported incidents during the latest period. Crimes on the decrease in the Eastern Cape are sexual offences, burglaries at both homes and businesses, as well as the stealing of, and out of, vehicles. Nationally, sexual offences decreased by 3.2% and robbery with aggravating circumstances increased by 2.7%, while common assault went up 2.2%. Sekhukhune also highlighted that more protests were becoming rowdy and violent. Reported cases of violent unrest increased from 2 289 from April 2014 to March last year, to 3 542 over the past financial year. Sekhukune said when protesters vandalised and destroyed buildings – such as burning down schools – it meant police officials had to be diverted from their core business. Acting police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane said the national downward trend showed a serious dent in reducing countrywide crime, but added that work still had to be done. Phahlane reaffirmed that the statistics were accurate following an agreement with Statistics SA to vet the figures. Other aspects touched on during the briefing were that the back-to-basics approach had been implemented and was in full swing, as well as other command and control measures to ensure accountability. Phahlane has established the management intervention team to address issues of poor service delivery and target problematic crime hotspot areas. Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said the interesting thing was that crime was down in the broader sense, in particular non-contact crimes. “We are experiencing a decrease, with the exception of the contact crime category. But if you go into finer analysis on what the contact crime outlook is all about, it talks to the social fabric of our society.” Nhleko said what needed to be done did not fall entirely in the hands of the police “As society as a whole we have to deal with the social foundations of the contact crime category,” Nhleko said.