Last week, the South African Police Service (SAPS) released the annual crime statistics that gave insight into the current situation within communities. The statics showed an increase in contact crimes, which includes murder, attempted murder, assault and sexual offenses. The stats, however, reflected a decline in sexual offenses in Limpopo and the Northern Cape. Despite the scope of the study, many commentators believe that stats do not redress the issue of crime and instead call for a holistic approach.
Speaking to VOC, chairperson of the Mitchells Plain Cluster Community Police Forum (CPF), Hanif Loonat explains that while the stats show an increase in certain crimes, it does not dictate or impact the characteristics of crimes.
Describing offenders as “misguided individuals”, he says that crimes occur when opportunities for criminal activity arises.
Focussing on provincial stats, Loonat asserts that the Western Cape appears to have been the capital of violent crimes over the last ten years.
“Seven of our stations are in the top ten nationally, that really is not fair on a province that can be proactive,” he stated.
He notes that gangsterism, substance abuse, socioeconomic inequality, and unemployment add to the overall the level of crime within the province.
Loonat says that the ten categories, in which crimes stats increased, reflected an increase in mainly violent crimes, whilst 17 crime categories have decreased.
“In the last ten years, this province in six of the categories has had a noticeable increase in; murder, common assault, alcohol and drug related incidents, house robberies, business robberies, and car and ATM jacking’s.”
Loonat says that the increase in ATM and car jacking’s within the Western Cape is directly linked to the impact of counter measures that was imposed by Johannesburg authorities, which has forced criminals to find alternate hotspots within the Western Cape.
Given the continued scourge of crime that plagues the Cape Flats, he asserts that increased law enforcement is not a viable solution.
He instead calls for a holistic approach, in which all government departments’ work toward improving education, socioeconomic development, and the environment in which residents find themselves.
“Law enforcement is something that is reactive – after the fact. We, therefore, need to bring socioeconomic development on board,” Loonat added.
In order to facilitate positive change within communities, Loonat says that each CPF needs to adopt a proactive stance and empower residents to take control of their community.
“It is three per cent of our community that is terrorizing the 97 per cent. We are allowing the three per cent to condemn us to a situation where our kids will have no hope for the future.”
He further notes that crime is allowed to thrive within Cape Flats communities since criminals in many instances are a source of income for residents and, therefore, calls on socioeconomic reform that would liberate residents from the clutches of gangs.
“Try and arrest a gangster in Manenberg, you will never get it right. The community will turn in the thousands against you. It is because these people put the bread and butter on their table. We [therefore] need to educate our communities,” Loonat continued.