Most of the murder cases at police stations in the greater Athlone area are gang-related, and this, coupled with drug-related crime and illegal firearms, remain a policing challenge.
This is according to Philippi SAPS station commander Colonel Dennis Abels.
The latest national crime statistics, released on Tuesday October 24, log crime reported in the country from the beginning of April last year to the end of March.
In the Philippi policing precinct, which includes Hanover Park, the murder rate fell from 67, during the same period last year, to 65, and attempted murder fell by eight, from 99 to 91.
Cases of assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm (GBH) fell from 102 to 100; common robbery fell from 130 to 119; robbery with aggravating circumstances fell from 231 to 210; common assault went up from 326 to 342; the sexual offences category, which includes rape, sexual assault and attempted sexual offences, dropped from 94 to 69; carjacking rose from 21 to 26, home robberies rose from five to nine; non-residential robberies fell from 23 to 10; non-residential burglaries rose from 135 to 140; home burglaries fell from 297 to 257; vehicle theft fell from 64 to 55; and theft from vehicles fell from 369 to 305.
Colonel Abels was happy with the drop in some of the crime statistics but he was concerned about the drop in arrests made for crime detected by police action.
This category includes the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, which fell from 122 to 100, and drug-related crime, which fell from 2 030 to 1 925. But decreases in this category, mean fewer arrests were made.
“Our top crimes decreased. However, we must get more firearms off the street and more drugs eliminated. The majority of the murders are gang-related, and our current status is quite challenging. We need additional law enforcement to help us maintain or lessen the previous statistics cycle. One of the things suggested was a lock-down of the Hanover Park community, but that would infringe on people’s right to privacy. Issues around corruption are also a big challenge for us. One of the reasons why people side with perpetrators, is that the latter instil fear. The people live around them, and they know what the perpetrators do are wrong, but because they fear, they don’t report.
“It also seems like we are recycling cases. The justice system allows a suspect to be out on bail a few days after being arrested, and this leads to a lack of trust in the police. That is the reality,” Colonel Abels said.
Manenberg SAPS acting station commander Colonel Sanele Zama, said his precinct had been known as a “gang police station” because of gang conflict in the area .
However, murder cases at Manenberg SAPS fell from 60 to 55; attempted murder fell from 130 to 114; assault GBH fell from 275 to 258; and common assault fell from 649 to 573. However, common robbery rose from 143 to 148, and robbery with aggravating circumstances rose from 288 to 315.
The sexual offences category climbed from 109 to 133.
Carjacking rose from 20 to 24; home robberies rose from 13 to 18; non-residential robberies rose from 22 to 26; non residential burglaries rose from 107 to 109; and home burglaries fell from 408 to 406. Vehicle theft fell from 106 to 82 and theft from vehicles fell from 252 to 244 cases.
Arrests for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition fell from 144 to 99, and arrests for drug-related crime fell from 2 508 to 2 399.
Colonel Zama the Manenberg situation was a complex one. “Poverty has effectively destroyed the community, both socially and spiritually. Murders within the precinct have always been a concern because most murders would occur during gang conflict. Gangs have always seemed to have thrived because of the lack of intervention and educational programmes.
“The murder and sexual violation of our children by trusted members of the community is a huge concern and through educational awareness we attempt to address this heinous crime.
“Manenberg SAPS is a small policing precinct, compared to many other precincts, yet we have retrieved a huge amount of firearms and ammunition. This shows the dedication and commitment of our SAPS members. We still have a long and difficult road to travel with our community and changing their perception towards crime and the role they need to play.
“Sexual crimes and crimes against women and children have become difficult to police because the crimes are perpetrated in the safety of homes, out of reach of SAPS. We need more people to report these situations that lead to criminal behaviour. The community need to play a more active role in crime prevention by reporting crime and giving up the perpetrators so that the law can take its course.
“SAPS is part of the community of Manenberg we are committed in reducing crime, but we need our main partners, the community, to take hands to fight crime and grime. All other government departments are also welcome to assist us. While we fight crime, we need our community to be fed, educated, healthy and employed.”
At Lansdowne SAPS, murder fell from eight to seven; attempted murder rose from six to nine; assault GBH fell from 95 to 74; common assault fell from 193 to 167; common robbery fell from 98 to 96; robbery with aggravating circumstances rose from 212 to 237; cases in the sexual offences category fell from 31 to 27; carjacking fell from 26 to 20; home robberies rose from 14 to 19; non-residential robberies fell from 21 to 20; non-residential burglaries fell from 132 to 102; home burglaries fell from 444 to 418 cases; vehicle theft fell from 174 to 128; and theft from vehicles fell from 440 to 345 cases.
Arrests for illegal possession of firearms and ammunition cases rose from four to seven. Drug-related crime arrests rose from 345 to 451.
Murder cases at Athlone SAPS rose from 16 to 25; attempted murder rose from 38 to 47; assault GBH fell from 217 to 166; common assault fell from 533 to 494; common robbery fell from 231 to 215; robbery with aggravating circumstances rose from 359 to 377; cases of sexual offences rose from 64 to 71; carjacking rose from 19 to 23; home robberies fell from 23 to 15; non-residential robberies rose from 26 to 27; non-residential burglaries fell from 195 to 173; home burglaries fell from 490 to 388; vehicle theft fell from 219 to 187; and theft from vehicles fell from 703 to 614.
Arrests for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition fell from 50 to 33. Drug-related crime arrests rose from 1 377 to 1 831.
At Bishop Lavis SAPS, murder rose from 77 to 97; attempted rose from 122 to 143; assault GBH fell from 431 to 427; common assault fell from 735 to 652; common robbery rose from 279 to 295; robbery with aggravating circumstances rose from 408 to 429; cases in the sexual offences category fell from 99 to 94; carjacking fell from 32 to 25; home robberies rose from 15 to 18; non-residential robberies fell from 15 to 14; non-residential burglaries fell from 155 to 146; home burglaries rose from 369 to 383; vehicle theft fell from 59 to 52; and theft from vehicles rose from 623 to 771.
Arrests for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition rose from 72 to 99. Drug-related crime arrests rose from 2 472 to 2 898.