Don't judge Bheki Cele because of crime stats‚ says expert

Police Minister Bheki Cele
Police Minister Bheki Cele
Image: Gallo Images

We should measure police performance on response times‚ complaints against officers and their clearance rates‚ not the annual crime statistics.

That is what University of Cape Town crime expert Anine Kriegler said on Monday ahead of the release of the police’s annual crime statistics on Tuesday.

Kriegler warned the public not to draw conclusions about police minister Bheki Cele’s performance based on the numbers.

“If we want to know how Cele is doing‚ we need to wait until the full SAPS annual report is released. That will give us the really important info on response times‚ complaints against the police‚ case clearance rates and so on. That is how we should be measuring police performance‚ not the crime stats‚” Kriegler said.

“With the possible exception of rates of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition‚ which may be a reasonable measure of how hard police are working to find illegal firearms‚ for example through door-to-door or roadblock operations. Firearms drive lots of other crime‚ including robberies and of course murders and attempted murders.”

Unisa crime expert Rudolph Zinn expects crime numbers to decrease‚ but that violent crime will remain a problem.

“Our murder rate is on the increase ... Especially the murder of women and children‚” Zinn said.

“What we have seen over the past decade is that the number of reported crimes remains stable at around 2.1-million. The fluctuations and differences we see are amongst crime categories‚ so one increases and the other decreases.”

Kriegler said it was vital to take population growth into account when looking at these numbers. She said the population grew about 1% in the last year‚ 10% since 2011/12 and 46% since 1994.

Kriegler believes non-violent property crimes like burglary and car theft will continue to fall and violent property crimes such as house robbery and carjacking will rise.

“[Carjacking] has seen the biggest increases in the last five years‚ although it isn’t yet back up to the level of the late 1990s.”

Zinn advised South Africans not to view crime in broad strokes‚ in other words‚ that it is either out of control or decreasing.

“As a citizen you should say: This type of crime has lately enjoyed a lot of prominence‚ deservedly so‚ but don’t deduce that it is all crimes‚ because then that would have been in the media too and it’s not‚” Zinn said.

“I think that is the danger we are seeing‚ especially with cash-in-transit robberies and farm murders.”

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