Crime on the Atlantic Seaboard has remained relatively low but has shown an increase in violent crimes, including in rape and sexual assault, which is on par with the rest of the province.
The South African Police Service released the annual crime stats on Thursday September 12. They showed the country had 21 022 murders for the 2018/2019 financial year, 686 more than the previous year – an increase of 3.4%.
In the Western Cape, murders increased 6.6% from 3 729 cases last year to 3 974 this year with the top cause being gang-related.
On the seaboard, murder stats were low by comparison. Cape Town Central station had the highest number of murders out of the three stations covering the area, with seven cases compared to last year’s eight.
Sea Point had a 150% increase in murder, with fives cases compared to last year’s two and Camps Bay’s murder rate remained unchanged with only one case both this and last year.
Cape Town Central station had the highest increase in rape (17.9%) and sexual assault (40%) cases with 33 reported rape cases compared to last year’s 28 and 21 sexual assault cases compared to last year’s 15.
Camps Bay station, where the violent crimes reported were generally the lowest out of the three stations, also showed an increase in rape, with two cases reported compared to none last year. However, last year’s statistic was the lowest in 10 years with the highest being in 2010/2011 with seven cases reported. It also had no sexual assault cases reported for the past three years.
Sea Point was the only station on the seaboard to have a decrease in rape (33.3%) with four cases compared to last year’s six and had no increase in sexual assault cases with only five reported cases this and last year.
Camps Bay police station had the lowest incidence of crime. It had a decrease in nine of the 31 crime categories, including significant decreases in theft out of motor vehicles (down 31% from last year with 118 cases reported compared to 173 the year before), motor vehicle theft (26.1% down with 17 cases compared to last year’s 23) and drug-related crime (65% down with 41 cases compared 119 last year).
Sea Point station also showed a decrease in drug-related crime (26%, with 549 cases compared to 743 last year) while Cape Town Central had the highest amount of incidents out of the three stations but also had a decrease in this category (20.1%, with 2 313 cases down from last years 2 894).
All three stations had a decrease in theft out of motor vehicles (Sea Point of 4% and Cape Town Central of 6%) but Cape Town Central station still had the highest number of incidents in the country (3 710 reported cases compared to last year’s 3 956) a dubious title which it has claimed for several years running.
Sea Point featured 14th on the list of “top 30 stations” with 1 052 cases, down from last year’s 1 096. The stats showed that this was still the most prevalent crime at Sea Point and Cape Town Central stations.
The other categories that showed a significant increase at Cape Town Central station were hijacking (50% increase, with 21 cases compared to last year’s 14 – this category has also had a steady increase over the past 10 years, robbery with aggravating circumstances (8.5%, with 718 cases reported compared to last year’s 662 – this category has also shown a steady annual increase and as a result has almost doubled since 2009’s 481 cases).
Cape Town Central also had a 20% decrease in drug-related arrests, down to 2 313 from 2 894 last year.
Station spokesperson, Captain Ezra October, said drug abuse had subsided in the CBD due to the increased number of dealer arrests daily. He said the station had been targeting problem areas such as Plein, Long and Strand streets and had been working more closely with law enforcement, security stakeholders and residents.
“Having more people on the ground has helped a lot, however, close circuit television (CCTV) cameras assist us just as much,” he said.
Camps Bay police station has also had increases in assault with the intent to inflict serious bodily harm (75%, with seven cases compared to last year’s four), common assault (33% with 28 cases compared to last year’s 21), common robbery (21%, with 28 cases compared to last year’s 23), robbery at residential premises (75% with seven cases compared to last year’s four), burglary at residential premises (19.6%, with 189 cases compared to last year’s 158) and shoplifting (166.7%, with eight cases reported compared to last year’s three).
Sea Point station had increases in murder (150%, with five cases reported compared to last year’s two), assault with the intent to inflict serious bodily harm (100%, with 18 cases compared to last year’s nine), common assault (3.5%, with 119 cases compared to last year’s 115), common robbery (4.1%, with 77 cases compared to last year’s 74), hijacking (150%, with five cases compared to last year’s two), theft of motor vehicles (22.7%, with 108 cases compared to last year’s 88) and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition (50%, with six cases reported compared to last year’s two).
Cape Town Central Comunity Police Forum chairman and Green Point and Oranjezicht Improvement District chief executive officer, Marc Truss, said the crime stats were not a true reflection of what happens on the ground.
He said there are many issues that needed to be addressed and the community should work with the police to combat crime. “The public need to get involved and share information with the police and law enforcement agencies. We need to be more vigilant.”
Mayoral committee member for safety, security and events, JP Smith, called the stats “horrific”.
“We have made an improvement of dedicating one police officer per 560 members of the public. The national average is said to be one officer per 375 members, so we are almost at half the strength we should be.”
He said that tourism was also impacted by crime. “300 000 jobs in the city depend on tourism, therefore, one cannot allow the showcase window or display window for Cape Town, that being Table Mountain and the CBD, to become impaired and for those jobs to be lost. We acknowledge that with more unemployment comes more crime and more problems, hence it is mandatory that the city does its best to protect valuable tourism assets.
“We are not taking away the fact that there is more crime taking place around the CBD area, however, we do not want to prioritise the safety of tourists over that of locals, but we also want to prioritise the jobs of locals.”