The ’Plain is crime capital

While Mitchell’s Plain police station tops the national charts with the most reported crime figures in the country in the recently released SAPS crime statistics for 2015/2016, station commander Brigadier Cass Goolam and Mitchell’s Plain Community Police Forum (CPF) chairperson Abie Isaacs say it is a step in the right direction.

Of the 135 525 cases reported nationally 19 499 cases (14.4 percent) emanate from Mitchell’s Plain police station, closely followed by Cape Town Central with 17 785 cases (13.1 percent) and Johannesburg with 14 606 cases (10.8 percent).

Brigadier Goolam said crime statistics need to be analysed in context and the police have made a concerted effort to build the confidence of the community to report crime. He said the station serves about 1.5 million residents living within the borders of Swartklip and Morgenster roads and Jakes Gerwel and Baden Powell drives.

“I want to plead to the community to rise up against crime,” he said. “Stand up.”

He said some communities in Tafelsig have attacked police, while attending to crime scenes.

However, he said, they have more positive responses than negative. “Where residents form part of the CPF and are informed of how to secure a crime scene, evidence is protected and the scene secured for police experts to collect evidence and better secure a conviction,” he said.

Mitchell’s Plain ranked number one in the crime detected as a result of police action category, including the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition with 225 of the 1 441 reported cases nationally and drug-related crime with 4 609 of 28 036 cases reported countrywide. Meanwhile the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition have been reduced in the area by 28 reported cases compared to the previous period.

Mr Isaacs said this is because residents are informing the police of what is happening in their community.

The station also had the most contact crimes reported, including common assault, with 2 079 (16.4 percent) of 12 681 reported crimes nationally and malicious damage to property with 1 308 (11.3 percent) of 8 187 reported cases.

Reflecting on the statistics, Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko said social-related factors such as alcohol abuse, arguments, jealousy resulting from broken relationships and domestic violence related incidents culminate in the damaging or destruction of property belonging to others are prevalent in all the provinces. “In most case the victims and offenders are known to one another,” he said.

In the Western Cape 22 percent of cases reported at the top 10 stations in respect of malicious damage to property are related to domestic violence, with the figure as high as 34.4 percent in Mitchell’s Plain.

Mr Isaacs said domestic violence cases being withdrawn by victims a day after the offence is a huge problem. He said officers are called to spend two hours at the scene only to have the victim withdraw the case the next day at court. “We need all departments, especially those in the safety and security environment, to come on board.”

Mr Isaacs said the youth need to be given alternatives to drugs and gangsterism. “We ask the community to continue sending information to the police and to join our sub-structures, be it the CPF sub-forum, neighbourhood watch, street or block committees.”

He said if residents did not want to speak to the CPF, they should report information to their imam or priest, who can also direct information to the police.

* Lentegeur police station

Lentegeur police station commander Colonel Elizabeth Hermanus said overall crime has decreased by 8.16 percent compared to last year. She said community involvement will improve statistics, especially in preventing gang violence and crimes against women and children.

Colonel Hermanus said sectors had to be reinforced with vehicles, more police and all other law enforcement agency visibility. “We conduct crime prevention operations, which are determined by reported crime, every day,” she said.

She said detective tracing operations to arrest outstanding wanted suspects are also on her to-do list.

Lentegeur CPF chairperson Mark Brookes said the crime statistics have been consistent for the past eight months and while they have spotted an increase in hijackings and house robberies in Mandalay and Mont Clair, they have been able to establish and reconnect CPF sub-forums in the area.

Eleven more murders (27.5 percent) have been reported at the station, since the previous reporting period but there has been a drop in all other contact crimes, including sexual offenc-es, attempted murder, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, common assault, common robbery and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Mr Brookes said the station, which was opened in August 2013, has done well in reducing crime in the precinct. He said crime statistics showed where police resources needed to be deployed and has allowed the CPF to alert the community to danger and crime hot spots.

He said residents should know that they can join the CPF, its sub-forums, neighbourhood watches, street and block committees.

“If you do not want to join then report suspicious activity and build a better relationship with the police.”

Mr Brookes said the increase of reported cases relating to crime detected as a result of police action, specifically drug-related crime – 117 cases at the station – was due to police doing more stop-and-search operations.

“They are doing their work and need to be commended but it would be great to see more high flyers being arrested and convicted,” he said.

The station received about 20 new recruits in July, who are visible in the community, which has had a positive effect on the crime statistics said Mr Brookes.

He said residents can report concerns around crime to the CPF via email at cpf.lentegeur@ gmail.com

* Strandfontein police station

Recently appointed Strandfontein police station command-er Captain David Malong is glad that crime has stabilised in the area.

While there has been a steady increase in contact crimes, with seven murders reported during the 2015/2016 monitoring per-iod and eight more attempted murders and 10 more common robbery cases than the previous period.

“Robberies are still a challenge for us, specifically along public transport routes, where pedestrians walk early in the morning and late at night. Women and their cellphones seem to be easy targets,” he said.

Captain Malong said the deployment of 16 police students since last year has boosted police visibility and drug confiscation.

He said the community could help them by staying away from crime; refraining from buying stolen goods; reporting crime, big or small and joining CPF structures.

The station serves residents living between the borders of Spine and Weltevreden roads, Baden Powell Drive and Old Strandfontein Road.

Captain Malong said Pelican Heights does not form part of the precinct.

Sandy Schuter, Strandfontein CPF chairperson, said while crime has been stabilised, it is still a problem. She said crime prevention interventions, including stop-and-search operations, constant police visibility and social crime prevention awareness drives, have gone a long way in fighting crime in the area.

Ms Schuter said more youth intervention programmes, more effective, registered substance abuse rehabilitation services and more services and facilities for the youth and senior citizens are needed. She lashed out at online and armchair crime-fighters, saying apathetic residents are the downfall of the community.

The CPF aims to have a street committee in every street of Strandfontein.

In the past six months the CPF, its structures, SAPS and law enforcement agencies have worked together to close drug houses in Kabeljou and Caravel streets and Garden Close.