Violent crime in the greater Athlone area has decreased in most of the area’s five police precincts.
This is according to the latest crime statistics – for the period between April 1 last year and March 31 this year – released by Police Minister, Bheki Cele on Friday July 31.
Murder rates at Philippi, Lansdowne, Athlone and Bishop Lavis police stations decreased, while Manenberg’s murder rate went up by three. However, the Western Cape recorded 821 of the 1023 gang-related murders in the country.
Athlone had 31 murders, compared to last year’s 35, Bishop Lavis had 77 murders this year, down 67 compared to last year’s 144. Lansdowne had four murders, six fewer than last year. Philippi police station, which serves Hanover Park, among others, had 78 murders, compared to last year’s 86. Manenberg had 60 murders, three more than last year.
Graham Lindhorst, the Bishop Lavis community police forum (CPF) chairperson, said they expected the number of murders to come down drastically, as police officers had “put in a lot of work”.
“Murders have come down below the triple digits, and a 46.5% decrease is significant. As the CPF, we have been pushing SAPS and they have worked hard to get the numbers down.
“The community also played a role in the success. In Bonteheuwel, they have started food gardens and various other activities, and they said they will squeeze the gangsters out of their spaces. They have also given the police information, which has helped a lot,” Mr Lindhorst said.
Bishop Lavis SAPS is also among the country’s top 30 police stations for “crime detected as a result of police action”. This category of crime includes the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, drug-related crimes, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and sexual offences. The station is sixth in the country, with 2 235 arrests, up 78 from last year’s 2 157.
Said Mr Lindhorst: “They (SAPS) have been getting those illegal guns. If they did not get it off the streets, more people would have been killed. They are ridding the area of guns and drugs.”
Robbery with aggravating circumstances decreased at three of the five police stations.
There was an increase of 121 cases, however, at Athlone SAPS which recorded 509 for this year; in Bishop Lavis it dropped by six cases to 363 for this year. Lansdowne had 219 reported cases this year, up from 210 last year. Manenberg had 314 cases, up from 260 last year. At Philippi SAPS 237 cases were reported, which is 43 cases fewer than the previous year.
Incidents of sexual offences also saw a decrease in three policing precincts.
Athlone had 55 cases, compared to last year’s 69, a drop of 20.3%. Bishop Lavis had 94 cases, compared to last year’s 89. Lansdowne recorded 27 this year, one down from last year. Manenberg had 111 cases, down from 122. Philippi had 67 cases, two fewer than last year.
Manenberg SAPS spokesperson, Captain Ian Bennett said although the precinct’s murder rate was up, work by detectives had secured a high rate of convictions for serious crimes.
“The work by detectives has seen at least five life-term prison sentences in a short space of time. Our success rate is quite good. Detectives from our serious violent crime unit investigate to arrest, not arrest to investigate. They first gather all the evidence to prove the case. This has taken more time, but it has proven to be more effective in securing convictions,” Captain Bennett said.