Fighting crime is a collective effort

The gang violence in the Bishop Lavis police precinct is a major contributor to this station ranking 21 in the top 30 police stations with the highest murder statistics.

This is according to Brigadier Christopher Jones, station commander of Bishop Lavis SAPS.

Brigadier Jones was responding to the national crime statistics, which were released by Police Minister Bheki Cele last week.

The murder rate in the Bishop Lavis precinct, of which Bonteheuwel is part, is up by one more this year, with a total of 98.

Last year 97 murders were reported. Attempted murder is up 9.1% — from 143 cases during the previous monitoring period, to 156 cases this year.

The number of common assault cases also increased, from 652 last year to 689 this year. Drug-related crime also saw an increase, from 2 898 the previous year to 3 432 this year.

“We have local, provincial and national strategies in place to assist with curbing gang violence. Minister Cele even pushed in more resources for our station from Operation Thunder,” Brigadier Jones said.

Operation Thunder is a stabilisation operation which involves the deployment of members of specialised units from other provinces, to deal with crime in the Western Cape. It is a national intervention aimed at rooting out gang violence and other serious crimes on the Cape Flats.

Although Mr Cele has come under heavy criticism on social media for his comment that gangsterism is more a societal issue than it is a policing issue, Brigadier Jones said he could understand why he made that statement.

“We can do hardcore policing. Our murder conviction rate is not what it should be, but it is at 87%. We raid many houses on a daily basis. People moan, but about 10% of the people who moan, are relatives of gang members.

“I often get calls at 7.30am during the week from mothers asking me to send officers to help them get their children dressed for school and to take them to school, because the child refuses to go to school. This is not a policing matter, that is a societal matter.

“The community themselves admitted that they are throwing the police with stones to protect certain gang members.

“Yes, society has worked with us to help us get illegal firearms off the street. I cannot blame the community or the police. We must all work together to see change. We can have strategies in place, but it would be futile if there are no co-operation.

“I have urged the community leaders who organised the community shutdowns to use that same emotions to root out gangsterism,” Brigadier Jones said.

Lansdowne Community Police Forum chairperson, Rafique Foflonker, agreed that a trust relationship between the community and police was an effective way to deal with crime.

Most of the serious crime in the Lansdowne police precinct has shown a decrease.

The murder rate came down from seven reported cases last year to five this year. Robbery with aggravating circumstances also came down from 237 last year to 228 this year.

A total of 13 carjackings were reported this year, compared to the 20 last year.

Burglary at residential premises also came down from 418 cases last year to 361 this year.

“We need a trust relationship between the community and the police to contain crime. As the CPF it is our duty to hold SAPS accountable and to engage with the community.

“Our crime statistics at Lansdowne SAPS has been trending down steadily over the last nine years, and we’ve had major improvements over the last four years. People want a crime-free society, but if we compare Lansdowne to neighbouring communities, we are doing okay,” Mr Foflonker said.

In Manenberg, six more murders were reported — up from 55 the previous year to 61 this year.

Attempted murder is also up from 114 last year to 125 this year. Robbery with aggravating circumstances is down by 35 cases, from 315 the previous year to 280 this year.

RoegshandaPascoe,chairperson of the Manenberg Safety Forum, said she had little faith that the statistics were a true reflection of crime patterns.

“Sometimes a case is attempted murder, but it would not be logged as such, because some police members want to ‘save face’.

“However, we need to come to a point where we ask ourselves what we can do do to change things for the better.

“We all have an obligation as human beings that every soul is accounted for,” Ms Pascoe said.

In the Philippi police precinct, which includes Hanover Park, the murder rate went up by 22 — from 65 in the previous year, to 87 this year.

Sexual offences also went up by 19 cases. Last year 69 cases were reported, compared to 88 this year.

Drug-related crime is down by 165 cases. Last year 1 925 cases were reported, and this year 1 760 cases were reported.

In Athlone, murder is down from 25 the previous year to 14 this year. Sexual offences is down from 71 to 56. Attempted murder is also down from 47 last year to 39 this year.

Robbery with aggravating circumstances is up from 377 last year to 392 this year. Drug-related crime cases went up by 265 – from 1 831 last year to 2 096 this year.