There are times when Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula makes a lot of sense. He did yesterday, when he was in a sombre mood as he revealed the 2016-2017 crime statistics to the nation.
There were categories in which crime was down and others where there were only small increases.
Yet Mbalula resisted the impulse to crow because, whichever way you slice it, South Africa is still a crimeridden country.
And Mbalula was particularly depressed about the fact that violent crime – which affects people most deeply on an emotional and psychological level – is on the increase.
“Behind the numbers are real feelings, real lives, real hurt, real harm, real losses,” he said.
The really grim figure is the number of murders. In the past year, just over 19 000 South Africans were murdered. Even though this is an increase of just 1.8%, the overall number of murders is still the highest it has been in 10 years.
And despite the fact the rape total is down by 4%, the horrifying truth is that just under 40 000 people were raped last year. And the real figure is much higher because it is a proven fact that many rape victims, especially women, do not go to the authorities.
The reality for Mbalula is that the numbers of violent crimes are increasing in direct relation to the inability of the police and justice system to bring criminals to book.
Crime, particularly violent crime, appears to hold little in the way of consequences for perpetrators and so they carry on doing it.
One of the horrifying aspects of the statistics released yesterday was that a significant number of murders in the Western Cape were related to mob justice.
We are going to see more of that as long as our policing systems remain ineffective.