South Africans are more in danger in their own homes than ever before as police statistics revealed a dramatic increase in most violent crimes.
"We're not happy about the figures. It's a big no that people are dying, that people in their own houses are not safe, that people in their beds are faced with guns," said national police commissioner Bheki Cele in response to a question from The Times at a briefing in Cape Town yesterday.
Although murder was reduced by 3.4%, violent crimes are on the rise for the second consecutive year with police seemingly unable to stop the scourge.
* House robbery rose by 27.3% between April last year and March, compared with 13.5% the previous year;
* Business robbery rose a staggering 41.5% in the financial year ending March, compared with 47.4% the previous year; and
* Car hijackings are up by 5% this financial year compared with 4.4% the year before.
The ANC issued a statement saying that the increase in violent crime has made more urgent the need to amend Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act that restricts the police's use of force.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said government was "deeply concerned" about the rise in house robberies, saying it will receive "our most serious attention".
"A person's home is his/her last line of defence. We simply cannot tolerate a situation where people do not feel safe in their homes. House robberies affect communities from all walks of life," he said.
Police statistician Dr Chris de Kock said that, despite the decrease in the murder rate, "docket analysis showed definite growth of murders as a result of robbery".
Commercial crime increased by 16% while attempted murder and assault both decreased by 4.3%. Sexual offences - a new category combining rape and indecent assault - increased by 10.1%.
Gauteng is the most dangerous province to live in terms of violent crime, while the Northern Cape is the safest.
KwaZulu-Natal is South Africa's new murder capital with 4747 killings compared with second-placed Gauteng with 3884.
Gauteng remains the most dangerous in terms of house robbery (8122 cases), business robbery (6216) and sex crimes (17902).
The Northern Cape, in comparison, had 45 house robberies, 121 business robberies and seven hijackings.
The Institute for Security Studies crime analyst Dr Johan Burger said that although the murder rate was marginally down, the statistics were "worrying".
"It shows us that the police's strategy in fighting trio crimes (house robberies, business robberies and hijackings) is either not working and there is something wrong, or we are missing something," he said.
"The statistics show us that we do not understand the problems sufficiently yet in order to effectively deal with them."
Nantes Kelder, head of Afriforum's community safety department, said: "My concern is that police are losing the fight against crime, they are failing us."
The South African Banking Risk Information Centre said cash in transit heists "remain a concern".
"While the national crime statistics demonstrate a 2.3% increase in attacks, the Cash in Transit industry crime information managed by Sabric shows a year-to-date increase of 18%," Sabric chief executive Kalyani Pillay said in a statement.
Barbara Holtmann, senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), said that for the "past several years", there has "been a trend towards more violent crime in the suburbs".
"One of the reasons . is the increase in levels of security and target hardening - the more we build up our defences the more aggressive and organised the criminals need to be," she said.
Mthethwa said that to fight crime, an audit of "available resources both human and material, and the deployment of such, was under way".
"The new Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation would consolidate efforts by concepts such as the War Room, where suspects linked to violent organised crime have been tracked and arrested," he said.
Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation senior researcher David Bruce said the police's focus on a trio crimes reflected middle-class priorities.
He said pressure on police stations to provide lower statistics had an impact on the numbers.
"Some of the statistics I regard as implausible, particularly the [decreasing] trends in common assault and street robbery," he said.
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