Staff shortages hamper crime fighting efforts

Police continue to experience staffing shortages.

The nationwide rise in 
violent crime, seen in the latest crime stats, is reflected in Parow and Goodwood, and community police forum bosses believe staff shortages at these police stations are to blame.

Police Minister Bheki Cele released the latest stats on Tuesday September 11. Tracking the period from April 1 last year to March this year, they paint a grim picture of crime in South Africa, with 20 336 murders reported – a 6% hike in the country’s murder rate.

Murder is up 150% in Goodwood, rom four to six cases.

The number of reported sexual offences cases rose from 36 to 37.

Although they are half of what they were 10 years ago, rape cases are up 20%, from 20 to 24 cases in the past year.
Assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm (GBH) is up 19.3% from 57 to 68 cases.

Burglaries at businesses rose 16.1%, from 112 cases to 130.

Burglaries at homes are down 11.4%, from 385 to 341 cases.

But thefts from vehicles have shot up by 24.4%, off a large base, from 496 to 617 cases.
Carjackings are up 8.7%, from 23 to 25 cases.

Drug-related crime is down 39%, from 423 to 258 cases.

Goodwood Community Police Forum (CPF) chairman John Ross said Goodwood police station appeared in the list of 10 worst police stations in two categories: theft of and out of motor vehicles, and shoplifting.

“Goodwood police said the decrease in manpower due to death, transfers and re-deployment to the provincial cluster has affected crime-fighting efforts. However, the CPF feels that under the circumstances, Goodwood has fared well.”

He said the high numbers of thefts from vehicles and robberies were a worry.

Armed robberies dropped 4.4%, but off a large base, from 274 to 262 cases.

Much of the crimes, he said, happened during the day as criminals could mingle with crowds at malls and railway stations.

“Staff shortages are a major problem throughout the Western Cape and not confined to Goodwood. Retiring staff do not get replaced. We have lost several members to the cluster group as other stations within our cluster are experiencing more violent crimes than we are. The provincial office needs to address this as a matter of urgency,” said the CPF boss.

Mr Ross said the CPF was working with neighbourhood watches to relook at their patrolling strategies.

Metro police were now working more closely with the neighbourhood watches and the watches and the CPF had access to the City’s CCTV surveillance unit. “We will continue, to host, weekly meetings with the SAPS management to maintain an effective crime prevention strategy. Regular pamphlet drop-offs are also being undertaken to encourage residents not to leave items of valuable in their cars,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Parow, attempted murder cases have gone up 125%, from eight to 18 cases. There were 10 murders – down from 11 in the last reporting period. Common robbery jumped 21.7%, from 414 to 504 cases.

Armed robbery rose by 9.8%, from 512 to 562 cases.

And rape has gone up 36.4%, from 22 to 30 cases.

Parow CPF chairman Roger Cannon said common robbery, especially around the Parow transport hub, was “one of our biggest challenges”.

Regular patrolling by Parow police at peak times to combat crime there meant there were fewer officers to cover other areas.

“We therefore now have complaints from the community that SAPS do not respond quick enough to incidents that they have reported. This leads to the community being despondent with the police’s service delivery.”

Mr Cannon said the CPF would keep pressing the provincial police to deploy more staff in Parow, as the present complement couldn’t cope.

Ewald Botha, spokesman for Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, said Capetonians were facing unacceptably high levels of violent crime fuelled by gangsterism, drugs and gun violence.

“The province is seeing 10-year highs being recorded in murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, robbery at residential premises, counts of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition and an all-time high in drug-related crime.”

The possibility that some crimes were being under reported needed to be examined, because “we cannot allow a breakdown in the relationship between police and communities because of poor policing service delivery based on insufficient manpower and resources”, Mr Botha said.

It was well known that the Western Cape with one police officer for every 509 citizens was well below the national average of 1:369, he said.

Goodwood police station commander Colonel Sibusiso Mntambo said it was clear violence was on the rise, and they had a “big task”, not only in policing but in educating the community.

“Liquor also plays a role in these crimes.

“When people are intoxicated, they easily resort to violence and sometimes even become victims,” he said.

They would do more compliance inspections at liquor outlets to fight violent crime, he said.

“Goodwood managed to reduce the number of house break-ins as well as theft of motor vehicles. However there was an increase in the business burglaries and theft out of motor vehicles categories. To combat, these crimes, we will increase our visibility and operations.

“This is where our neighbourhood watches are doing an excellent job. Awareness and education will be an ongoing exercise throughout this financial year,” he said.

Parow police did not respond to requests for comment by the time this edition went to print.