Opposition parties have questioned the veracity of the crime statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday.
Cele and national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole presented the statistics to the Portfolio Committee on Police. During this meeting, Sitole admitted that the statistics on reported rapes couldn’t be verified due to some police stations’ closure due to Covid-19 infections.
Apart from questioning the statistics, the opposition parties also said it was indicative of government’s failure to keep South Africans safe.
DA MP and spokesperson on police Andrew Whitfield said he would urgently write to Cele to “provide clarity on several problematic and confusing aspects of the annual crime statistics”.
“The crime stats once again indicate that the South African Police Service (SAPS) is losing the battle against most major crimes. The murder rate is, again, the highest it has been in 10 years, with an average of 58.4 murders per day in South Africa. Sexual offences increased by 1.7%, with sexual assault increasing by 4.2%. On average, 115.8 people are raped in South Africa every day. Contact crimes also increased by 0.7%,” he said in a statement.
“More worryingly, during the presentation SAPS indicated these rape figures against women and children are ‘not yet completed’ and are ‘preliminary’.”
“It raises serious questions about our fight against sexual crimes such as rape.”
“Minister Cele must account for these discrepancies and whether SAPS is using the stats to play political games in trying to paint a rosy picture with regards to gender-based violence.”
He said the statistics were an indictment on the police and specifically in Cele who appeared more worried about alcohol and cigarettes than violent criminals.
IFP MP and spokesperson on police Zandile Majozi described the statistics as “alarming, unsettling and deeply problematic for numerous reasons”.
“At the outset, the increase in crimes and violence perpetrated against women and children is shocking, considering that many promises were made by the SAPS in this regard. This includes ensuring that police stations are equipped and that SAPS officers are trained to deal with cases of rape, sexual assault and grievous bodily harm,” she said in a statement.
“The rise in the number of errors in capturing stats for rape, assault and violence against women and children and protection orders issued simply do not add up. These stats are not yet audited and verified with physical case dockets.”
She said while her party supported the quarterly release of crime statistics, it could not support the release of incomplete, unaudited and rushed reports.
“It is unfortunate that South Africans continue to feel unsafe in their homes, on the streets, and in their towns, cities and provinces,” she said.
FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said the statistics indicated that South Africa was becoming an increasingly violent country.
He said the 21 325 murders recorded in the year under review meant there were 58.4 murders per day or 36 murders per 100 000 people.
“The average murder rate in the world is just 7 out of every 100 000 people,” he said in a statement.
“These statistics clearly show that South Africans are living in an unsafe and downright dangerous environment.”
He said the police now annually released statistics on farm murders, the latest indicating that 49 farm murders were committed during 46 incidents.
“The FF Plus has questions about the figures as the total number of attacks were not mentioned.”
He said the figures on crimes against women and children could only reflect a decrease in the number of cases that were reported.
“The possibility that the figures could be misleading with regard to these types of crimes must not be overlooked.
“There are a lot of shortcomings in determining the true extent of these categories of crimes seeing as in many cases, incidents are reported to police stations but they are not duly recorded.”
He said his party was calling on the government to have an independent body perform a thorough audit of the crime statistics to ensure that it provided a true reflection of the crime situation in South Africa.