Police Minister Bheki Cele answers questions after releasing the latest national crime statistics.
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MPs are concerned about the quality of the police’s crime statistics.Police Minister Bheki Cele and police commissioner Kehla Sitole said they are “flattening the curve” of murders, despite an increase.The committee was also unhappy about the time allowed to interrogate the statistics.MPs serving on the Portfolio Committee on Police were concerned about the quality of the statistics presented to them by Police Minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner General Kehla Sitole.They were also unhappy with the time allowed to interrogate these figures.The statistics for the period from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 were presented to a hastily arranged virtual meeting, which started shortly after 08:00 on Friday morning.NEW ERA | News24 launches digital subscriptions at R75/month. Breaking news remains freeCele also had to address a media briefing on the statistics, which was initially scheduled for 10:00.The committee also only received the statistics on Friday morning, which didn’t allow them time to interrogate it and prepare probing questions.Despite an increase in murders, both Cele and Sitole said the police are “flattening the curve” with regards to murder, as the amount it increased is less than it was the previous year.Sitole also said, in general, community-reported crime went down by 2.7%.An overview of the statistics as presented to the committee are as follows:Murder: 21 325 cases, an increase of 303 cases or 1.4% on the previous year.Sexual offences: 53 293, an increase of 873 cases or 1.7%.Attempted murder: 18 635, 345 cases less than the previous year for a decrease of 1.8%.Assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm: 166 720, a decrease in 4 259 cases or 2.5%.Common assault: 165 494, an increase of 3 482 or 2.1%.Common robbery: 51 825, an increase of 60 cases or 0.1%.Robbery with aggravating circumstances: 143 990, and an increase of 3 958 cases or 2.8%.Property related crime: 469 224, a decrease of 25 937 or 5.2%.DA MP Andrew Whitfield noted a discrepancy in the rape statistics. In the figures presented with all the other crimes (used for the statistics provided above and included in the sexual offences), 42 289 rapes were reported, an increase of 706 cases or 1.7%.But, on a slide dealing with crimes against women and children, only 25 801 rapes against women, and 17 118 against children were reported. This totals 42 919.WATCH | About 15 armed men rob Mpumalanga petrol station using high-calibre weaponsIn both cases, the figures provided show a substantial decrease from the previous year.There is, however, a note on the slide dealing with the crimes against women and children, which reads: “NB: Figures of crimes against women and children in the table are inclusive of unfounded counts. These figures should regarded as preliminary as the verification through physical docket were not finalised due to Covid 19 (sic).”Sitole explained that, due to instances of Covid-19 infections, some police stations were closed and they couldn’t verify the information.READ | Crime stats: 9 deaths from bullying in schools – that’s more than the number of prison fight murdersHe confirmed that the director-general of Statistics South Africa signed off on the statistics, and said the reason is that they raised the matter of the closure of some stations in the report.He said they are also presenting a shortened version of the statistics to the committee. He asked to be allowed to present the verified rape statistics to the committee at a later stage, along with the longer version of the statistics.Uncomfortable ANC MP Jaqueline Mofokeng said: “I am very worried about the statistics. I’m really not comfortable, I must say.”Committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson said she found it “completely unacceptable” that the committee doesn’t have time to interrogate the statistics properly and said they will continue until 11:00. “The committee has a duty to do its oversight,” she said. “The minister and SAPS report to this committee.”Cele indicated that he had to leave at 10:00, but his deputy, Cassel Mathale, and Sitole stayed behind.Joemat-Pettersson had to leave the meeting due to a family bereavement and the ANC whip in the committee, Kebby Maphatsoe, took over as chair.”Deputy minister, you have heard the unhappiness at the late receiving of the report and the time. Our role is to play oversight and not just repeat the report.”Mathale said he took note and agreed that it is not appropriate.
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