The Simon’s Town Community Police Forum and Neighbourhood Watch organisations are well aware that many victims of crime refuse to open a case with SAPS. If a case is not opened, the crime concerned does not appear in the stats. The reasons for not opening a case are various, and are seen as valid:
- The most frequent concerns the Court process, where victims and perpetrators are obliged to wait together (intimidation), the endless time-wasting of case postponements where perpetrators have failed to answer bail/missing witnesses etc., plus the attitude of the Magistrate who in many cases is unsympathetic or even hostile to the victims of crime.
- Difficulty in communicating with SAPS junior members. Criminologists recommend that the ethnic characteristics of a police station must reflect that of the area in which it is situated. In Simon’s Town we have the exact opposite. This leads to major problems in communication (language barriers, lack of familiarity with the layout of Simon’s Town).
- Frequent refusal by SAPS to attend certain types of crime scene – especially those involving vagrants: drunk& disorderly, aggressive begging, breach of City of Cape Town By-Laws, etc. etc. This is contrary to the “Fixing Broken Windows” strategy that has been successfully implemented in many jurisdictions worldwide, and which the Simon’s Town CPF and local organisations are committed to implementing.
- SAPS do not carry out foot patrols, which are seen as a key proactive measure in deterring anti-social and criminal behaviour. The Simon’s Town Business Association, with the support of other organisations and individuals, has been obliged to hire private security guards to patrol the CBD.
- In support of the Business Association initiative, Ward 61 Councillor Simon Liell-Cock has had to utilise part of his Ward Allocation Budget to fund a Law Enforcement Officer to carry out foot patrols in the CBD.
- Residents in specific areas in Simon’s Town have been obliged to hire security professionals to implement stake-outs of ‘hot-spots’ of criminal activity, plus patrolling. This can lead to a visible drop in criminal activity, for the limited time period concerned; however this is citizen self-help in the almost total absence of State action to control crime and disorder.
Reading the local and national statistics in conjunction with crime-related news reports over the past year, one has to conclude that National Government has failed to address crime and disorder in a manner that shows determination to control the appalling level of criminality in this country. It also fails to recognise demographics – we are facing a huge increase in the number of disaffected male youths, unemployed and unemployable and who lack social skills. These are the criminals of tomorrow; add to this the increasing prevalence of hard drug usage by that community, and aided by corruption, we have a lethal prospect of law and order spiraling out of control. This is symptomatic of failed states. The National Government is failing this country by ignoring the fundamental issues; by over-reliance upon statistics that mask the true picture of criminal activity; by the use of cadres and inexperienced/incompetent personnel in the criminal justice system, where there should be professionalism, experienced and time-tested resources.
In summary, the statistics have a certain academic interest but they do not properly reflect underlying trends, which are distinctly adverse in the long term.
Vice Chairman, Simon’s Town Community Police Forum
Chairman, SAPS Sector 2 Crime Sub-Forum