While for the most part reported incidents of contact crimes have fallen in the southern suburbs, property-related crimes have spiked in the past year.
On Friday September 2, Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko released the annual SAPS crime statistics, revealing that the Western Cape continues to hold the ignominious title of the country’s murder capital.
In the reporting period April 1 2015 to March 31 this year, there was a 4.9 percent increase in the province’s murder rate, with Nyanga, Gugulethu, Harare, Khaye-litsha, Delft, Kraaifontein and Mfuleni identified at murder “hot spots”.
However, a very different picture is painted in neighbourhoods in the Tatler’s distribution area, where the murder rate has remained the same or dipped significantly in the past year.
That said, in some precincts disturbing numbers are being seen at station level.
Sexual offences and attempted murder have seen a marked increase compared to 2014/15 – sometimes as much as 200 percent – even though the numbers of reported incidents are low when compared to more volatile parts of Cape Town.
A station by station breakdown of the statistics gives a very good idea as to what residents will need to be alert to in their respective areas.
One less murder case was reported – from five, in 2014/15, to four. This is a massive change from March 2008, when 18 murders were reported.
Sexual offences shot up 33.3 percent, from 18 to 24 cases. Common assault was up 21.1 percent, from 114 to 138.
Property-related crimes were up, particularly residential burglaries, from 339 to 454. Commercial crime jumped 40 percent from 121 to 170.
Questions sent to Woodstock police were not answered by the time this edition went to print.
However, Salt River CPF spokesman Ashraf Gamiet said the statistics were a “surprise”.
“We hold a monthly meeting with the SAPS and we have been asking for statistics. We believed that we were relatively okay in terms of crime,” Mr Gamiet said.
“If you looked at Cape Town holistically, we seemed to have lower numbers. However, these figures, particularly in respect of crimes like sexual offences, are definitely cause for alarm. We will definitely be addressing this at our next meeting.”
For the third year in a row, no murders were reported in Mowbray, although again sexual offences rose from 7 to 9 (28.6 percent).
The big concern in the Mowbray area remains property-related crimes. There was an 111 percent spike in non-residential burglaries, from 17 to 36 cases, and a 48.3 percent jump in residential ones , from 174 to 258.
Thefts of motor vehicles and motorcycles rose from 79 to 126 cases.
There was a 14.9 percent drop, from 67 to 57, in “driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs” cases.
Mowbray police station commander Colonel May-Louise Dyers was on leave and unavailable for comment.
Mowbray CPF chairman Jonathan Hobday said burglary remained a “major” problem in the Mowbray and Rosebank precincts.
“Residential burglary, whether opportunistic or well organised, is definitely high in the area,” he said.
“Another concern is common robbery. There are a lot of students in the area, and often they are not aware that they can easily fall victim to criminals. A lot of this is related to carelessness.”
Mr Hobday said thieves often stole “older model vehicles” for parts, accounting, he believes, for the spike in vehicle theft.
He cautioned though that many of the statistics worked off a low and so any increase would read as a high percentage.
“I think while obviously statistics are cause for concern, we are not alarmed. In fact, I think it’s a miracle that the stats are not worse given that Mowbray police are short-staffed.
“I also think the influence of the Groote Schuur Community Improvement District, which acts as a supplementary police force, and the formation of the Little Mowbray and Rosebank Improvement District have assisted in keeping crime in check. There are bright lights in Mowbray. In Sybrand Park for example, crime levels have been reduced drastically because of citizen patrols.”
Rondebosch was one of the southern suburbs where the murder rate rose. For the first time in four years, murder was committed on the streets of the leafy suburb, with two cases reported from April 2015 to March 2016.
Among the contact crimes, there was a 51.2 percent increase in common assault (43 to 65 cases) and 43.5 percent increase in armed robbery (92 to 132).
Conversely, Rondebosch fared reasonably in terms of property-related crimes. While there was a 30.9 percent increase in theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles (94 to 123 cases), non-residential burglaries dropped by 11.5 percent (26 to 23) while there was no increase in theft out of motor vehicles.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs cases dropped 40.8 percent, from 157 to 93.
Rondebosch police spokesman Warrant Officer Lyndon Sisam said he would provide comment, but did not do so by the time this edition went to print.
Rondebosch CPF chairperson Amrish Punwasi said: “There is a realisation in the Rondebosch community that crime prevention is not only a police responsibility; it is everybody’s responsibility.
“There is strong partnerships with private security service providers, UCT Campus Protection and City improvement districts. The area of concern is the increase in contact crime. In an effort to make the community safer, the CPF together with the police station will be launching a survey next week to determine further improvements in Rondebosch.”
Efforts to curb crime in one of the southern suburbs’ biggest precincts appear to have paid off in the past year.
No murders were reported, and assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was down 38.9 percent, from36 to 22 cases.
And despite the suburb housing a prominent business district, crime dropped in most categories, although the number of incidents remain high.
Non-residential burglaries fell 35.2 percent, from from 91 to 59, as did residential ones, falling 15.6 percent from 754 to 636. Thefts of motor vehicles and motorbikes also dropped, by 20 percent, from 250 to 200.
Commercial crime is still a worry with a 19.1 percent increase, from 246 to 293.
Claremont CPF chairman Abdul Kerbelker said the area had seen a pleasing drop in crime.
“We can attribute our success to a partnership between community and police. Like all partnerships, it is not perfect , but there has been a willingness from both partners ( the community and police ) to hold each other up when needed.
“Our zero murder rate in Claremont is particularly pleasing. Murder is considered a broad indicator for crime violence and safety in general. The sobering reality is that murders are up from 17805 (2015) to 18763 (2016) countrywide.”
He said the increase in commercial crimes could be seen as a sign of tough economic times.
As with the April 2014 to March 2014 window, one murder was reported in April 2015 to March 2016. Attempted murder rose from one to three cases compared to the previous reporting period.
Malicious damage to property rose 44.1 percent from 24 to 49 cases.
Of the property-related crimes, non-residential burglaries spiked 24.6 percent, from 61 to 76 cases. However, there was an overall improvement in most property-related crime.
Commercial crime remained problematic, jumping by 40.4 percent during the reporting period (104 to 146 cases).
On a more positive note, residential burglariesdropped 14.5 percent, from 289 to 247 cases.
Pinelands police station commander Lieuetnant Colonel Helene Mouton said : “Although most of our property-related crimes shows a decrease it remains a concern for us, as we have always experienced property-related crimes as a challenge. Robberies also pose a concern especially on the railway environment. We work closely together with Rapid Rail Unit to have visibility on trains,” she said.
Pinelands CPF chairman John Berry agreed with Colonel Mouton’s sentiments.
“There has been a decrease in property-related crime, and of course the Rapid Rail Unit is doing good work on the lines,” he said.