Response to SAPS Annual Crime Stats 2012: Convictions are Key
Media Statement by Dan Plato, Minister of Community Safety
What is needed to improve safety in Western Cape is a root and branch overhaul of the Criminal Justice System, which includes proper leadership and management of the SAPS and proper capacity for solid investigations which lead to convictions.
Overall, crime rates remain high in the Western Cape. We would have expected to see a much larger decrease in the murder rate and it is clear that police action must be improved to deal with crime.
In the Western Cape, the murder rate is slightly down from 2 311 cases in 2010/2011 to 2 300 in 2011/2012. Attempted murder, however, has increased in the Western Cape from 2 162 to 2 328 in the same period. 13.1% of murders and 22.2% of attempted murders in Western Cape during 2011/2012 were gang related.
Today’s crime statistics show that improvement is needed, especially in terms of:
- Conviction rates: Successful convictions are a key deterrent. The more likely a person is of being caught for a crime, the less likely they will commit a crime. Today, Minister Mthethwa practically acknowledged that there has been a failure in securing convictions. Earlier this year, we were informed that over a three-year period zero convictions had been secured out of 87 cases of gang-related murder and attempted murder cases in Hanover Park, which is one of the Cape’s gang hotspots. The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development confirmed to Parliament an abysmal 11.8% conviction ratio for murder cases over a five-year period in our worst gang-affected communities. The figures revealed that in almost one in ten cases suspected murderers are not convicted for their crimes. These figures would explain why it appears that the gangsters are acting with impunity.
- Specialised Units: Solid, dedicated investigations are needed for specialised types of crimes such as gangs and drugs. Specialised policing units are needed to curb gang and drug crimes with dedicated teams working solely on specific crime categories. These units have specialist skills and expertise with the capacity to build up intelligence. This kind of dedicated focus results in solid investigations that can be prosecuted and end in convictions.
- Detectives: Capacity and training are needed for detectives that are overburdened and under-trained. Well-trained detectives that have workable caseloads will allow these men and women to properly investigate and detect crimes and drive up conviction rates. Examples of detectives sitting with 90 to 150 dockets per detective are simply unacceptable. A well-trained detective core with sufficient capacity can drive up conviction rates.
- Leadership: The SAPS needs strong leadership and management, something the minister has not given to date. The last year has been an annus horribilis for SAPS management with the suspension and sacking of the national commissioner, the Mdluli and crime intelligence saga and Marikana. Models of competence, integrity and leadership among SAPS top ranks are needed to take our men and women in blue towards a police service that is efficient, effective, respected and revered.
The decrease in the number of sexual offences in the Western Cape is welcomed, but this figure remains very high. In the Western Cape, the total number of reported sexual crimes follows this downward trend from 9 299 to 9 153.
The number of drug-related crimes has increased in every province, including the Western Cape which saw this figure increase from 70 588 reported crimes in 2010/2011 to 77 069 in 2011/2012. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs has also increased in the Western Cape to 17 534.
We need drastic changes to the criminal justice system so that we can ensure a high conviction rate, based on solid investigations and detective work – this will reduce crime and ensure that South Africans are safer.
Spokesperson for Minister Plato
Cell: 072 623 4499