The civil rights organisation AfriForum took note of South Africa’s crime statistics for the 2018/2019 financial year – which were released earlier today by the South African Police Service (SAPS) – with grave concern. The rise in violent crime and especially murder should come as no surprise after the army’s deployment in the Western Cape to assist the SAPS, as well as the SAPS’s shocking retreat from angry rioters in the Johannesburg CBD just over a month ago. The exceptions are perhaps Police Minister Bheki Cele and President Cyril Ramaphosa, who are generally shocked and surprised by facts long known to other South Africans.
“As if this isn’t bad enough, the media is riddled with negative articles on the poor state of the SAPS. They lost over 9,5 million rounds of ammunition and 4 357 firearms over the past six financial years. They were also instructed by National Treasury to reduce their budget by 5% (R5 billion), 6% (R6,5 billion) and 7% (R7,8 billion) in the next three financial years. Moreover, they had five different national commissioners over the past 10 years. Khehla Sithole, the current National Commissioner, even admitted to Parliament that the SAPS’s mandate is overstretched and impossible to fulfil,” says Marnus Kamfer, Legal and Risk Manager at AfriForum.
Ordinary police officers are daily victims of a failing government and police service leadership. A lack of ammunition to complete their firearms competency and a lack of rape-kits at police stations were only the most recent examples of how their important work is being sabotaged by an uncaring, incompetent department and top management. Subsequently, it should come as no surprise that the number of police reservists – people who sacrifice their personal time to aid the police – has declined since 2010 from 63 592 to 8 908 today.
“With this in mind, communities truly have no other option left but to organise themselves in neighbourhood watches to protect themselves. AfriForum’s 142 neighbourhood watches are great examples of how communities can organise themselves and work together with other role-players, including the SAPS at station level, to ensure a safer environment and a decrease in crime,” Kamfer says.