OPINION: Crime – and policing – in numbers


Ahead of Tuesday’s release South Africa’s annual crime statistics by the SA Police Service on Tuesday‚ Corruption Watch and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) say the high crime rate is being fuelled by political interference‚ which undermines professional police leadership and public safety. The two organisations have issued a breakdown in numbers that they say highlight the challenges:

ONE honest and competent national police commissioner is needed to lead the force responsible for curbing corruption and crime in South Africa.

“President Jacob Zuma has an immediate opportunity to radically improve policing in SA through the appointment of an experienced and ethical leader for the police. This would solve the long-standing crisis in police management and the deterioration in public safety.”

TWO vacant posts – SAPS national commissioner and head of the Hawks

“These posts are currently filled by people in an acting capacity. The ISS and Corruption Watch call for a permanent SAPS national commissioner and head of the Hawks to be appointed following a transparent and competitive process as recommended by the National Development Plan.”

THREE core principles

“Transparency‚ merit and public participation should guide the appointment of the new SAPS commissioner‚ in a competitive process.”


“Top cops (three SAPS Commissioners and one head of the Hawks) during the Zuma presidency whose terms of office ended in disgrace.”

FIVE: The number of people in the post of SAPS national commissioner in the past eight years.

“. . . If the individuals appointed as SAPS national commissioner and head of the Hawks were selected on merit through a transparent and competitive process‚ there would be little room for cronyism and appointment of the wrong person for political reasons. Both the police and public will benefit greatly.”


20: The percentage increase in the number of murders between 2011/12 and 2015/16. There were 3119 more murders in 2016 than 2011. This means that 50 people are murdered every day on average in South Africa.

32: The percentage increase in the number of armed robberies reported to the police in South Africa between 2011/12 and 2015/16. This translates into 365 armed attacks on our streets and in our homes every day on average. This is 88 more per day than was the case five years ago.


– 1‚176 convictions in 2014/5 following Hawks investigations compared to 7‚037 convictions in 2010/11. This is a decline of 83%

– 5‚847 arrests made by the Hawks in 2014/5 compared to 14‚793 arrests in 2010/11. That is a drop of more than 60%.


– R291 million paid out in civil claims after courts ruled on illegal behaviour by the police in 2015/16. This is a 175% increase in civil claims against the police in the previous five years.


R87 billion: The SAPS annual budget in 2017‚ up 49% in five years to 2015/16.

“Despite SAPS resources more than doubling‚ crime intelligence has deteriorated‚ detection of murder and robbery decreased‚ and visible policing dropped. Clearly the police need better leadership and management to make effective use of their vast resources.”

Source: TMG Digital.

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