Stats paint grim picture for Cape Town SAPS

Cape Town Central police station has been ranked the second worst precinct in the country with a total number of 17 770 reported crimes between April last year and the end of March this year.

This is according to Crime Stats SA’s analysis of the annual crime statistics which were released by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko last week.

Crime in the city centre also seems to have become more violent, with the stats showing a significant increase in contact crimes, particularly aggravated robbery, sexual offenses and assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm.

While the overall number of contact crimes has decreased from 2 378 in 2014/2015 to 2 348 in the latest monitoring period, the stats show that aggravated robbery is up by 43 incidents – 557 reported cases for the 2014/15, to 600 this year.

Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm has increased by 18 incidents – from 128 in 2014/15, to 146 this year.

The figures do not cover crime activity over the past six months, as the police only release annual statistics six months after the year in review.

Cape Town Central Community Police Forum chair, Nicola Jowell, said last year, the CPF raised concerns about the nature of crime in the city changing, with more incidents involving contact with victims and more weapons being used.

“This early warning has shown to be correct as we can see an increase in the number of house robberies and robbery with aggravating circumstances. It is further indicated by the fact that common robbery has decreased by 6.1 percent, but robbery with aggravating circumstances is up by 7.7 percent, so the positives of common robbery being down are vastly outweighed.”

However, Cape Town Central police station spokesperson, Captain Ezra October, seemed to have a different perspective on the “slight increase” in crime stats.

He said that although the number of robberies with a firearm had increased, it was difficult to determine in how many cases an imitation firearm had been used.

He said common assault and assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm were “socio-economic crimes”.

Despite the official statistics showing an increase, he said, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm was still decreasing after five years.

The statistics for Table Bay Harbour police station, whose precinct includes the V&A Waterfront, shows that contact crime has increased by five incidents, with assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm up by two incidents – from 12 last year to 14 this year.

At Cape Town Central police station, break-ins at businesses have shown a decrease from 272 last year to 241 this year, as well as residential housebreaking – from 700 to 539.

While property crime had decreased, said Ms Jowell, it was still disheartening that the numbers were high.

“It is still staggering to think that a massive number of 539 homes have been broken into. In a policing precinct that is 50 percent residential and 50 percent commercial, that is astounding, so it’s hard to feel positive. We also know that the number of business and home break-ins over the last few months have been of great concern as the numbers are on the increase.”

Business break-ins were also on the rise in Table Bay Harbour, with 16 incidents reported last year, and 33 reported this year.

Theft out of motor vehicle was an ongoing problem in the city centre, which recorded the highest number of cars broken into, in the province.

The statistics for Cape Town Central police station showed a two percent increase, with 3 441 incidents reported last year, compared to 3 509 incidents reported this year.

Table Bay Harbour’s statistics, however, show a dramatic 22.4 percent decrease in thefts out of motor vehicle, despite the V&A Waterfront attracting many visitors throughout the year.

The CPF said the 10 percent decrease in the number of cases of motorists driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs was “deeply worrying” but that an increase in crime detected as a result of police action, such as roadblocks and drug raids was good, as it showed more active policing. More cases indicate that more people were being arrested as a result of proactive policing.

Ms Jowell said the stats were showing an average of just fewer than 20 arrests a month for driving under the influence.

“We should be making that number of arrests each weekend. Sadly, driving under the influence is prolific in our area because of the number of entertainment venues.”

But despite the statistics showing the 10 percent decrease, Captain October said in recent months, there had been an increase in arrests made for driving under the influence, and attributed this to the partnership between the CPF, the City Central Improvement District and the traffic department.

Arrests for drug-related crime have again seen an increase – from 2 630 arrests last year to 2 712 arrests this year. Ms Jowell said in the past five years, there has been a steady increase in drug-related crime. “Although it is not a crime to be overlooked, it is questionable as to the impact we are making in this area and on the greater crime in our precinct.”

Table Bay Harbour has recorded a 20 percent decrease in arrests for drug-related crimes.

Captain October said after analysing the latest statistics, which were not included in the official statistics released last week, Cape Town Central police would now focus their attention on the CBD, with particular attention being paid to Long, Loop and Strand streets, as well as side streets, the Grand Parade and the railway station deck.

Table Bay Harbour SAPS declined to comment on the crime statistics, and referred the CapeTowner to SAPS’ national media office, which did not answer any of the area specific questions we had posed.

Ms Jowell said that because the crime statistics were released six months after the year in review, much of the information provided was over a year old. “While the stats provide an indication of whether it has a positive or negative impact on the crime, it does not take into account the daily changing scenario and patterns of crime,” she said.