KZN crime dips but farmers’ woes continue

According to police statistics for the period April 2011 to March 2012, crime levels in KwaZulu-Natal have declined.

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But farmers remain plagued by high levels of crime. “Kwanalu’s own records show a reduction in crime, but farmers continue to suffer at the hands of criminals in areas of stock theft, farm attacks and general theft, including crop theft,” said Kwanalu president Brian Aitken.

Police figures indicated that murders declined from 3 749 in 2010/2011 to 3 422 in 2011/2012; robbery with aggravating circumstances declined from 19 573 to 18 469; carjacking declined from 2 619 to 2 229; and arson declined from 1 141 cases to 1 074. However, stock theft increased from 7 402 to 7 743 cases.

Kwanalu’s head of security, Koos Marais, said government could no longer turn a blind eye to the effect of crime. “It is impossible to calculate the enormous cost of crime to the farmer, the consumer and the economy. While the offender’s rights are protected more than those of the victim, crime can only increase. Inexperienced police members and justice officials with little interest in service delivery do not contribute to addressing the problem,” Marais said.

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Kwanalu’s statistics indicate there was one farm murder and 14 farm attacks during the first five months of 2012, compared to no farm murders and 14 farm attacks for the same period in 2011. By the end of 2011, there was one murder and 36 attacks compared to 10 murders and 39 attacks in 2010. Aitkin urged farmers to participate in local security structures and to enhance relationships with local police.

DA MP, Sizwe Mchunu pointed out that at 3 422 murders, more people died violently in KZN than in any other province. He called for provincial, municipal and metro law enforcement officials to be given increased powers; a comprehensive, independent audit of KZN’s police stations; and for authorities to deal with capacity and competency issues, in particular proper training of investigators. Mchunu also called for the reintroduction of specialised crime fighting units with expert personnel.

When it comes to the national issue of copper cable theft, the value of stolen copper dropped to R17 million in August from R19,7 million in July and R17,9 million in June, according to the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (Sacci) copper theft barometer.

Sacci CEO Neren Rau warned that the increase in the international spot price of copper could have a knock-on effect on copper theft. “However, the authorities and the security industry are becoming increasingly competent at combating copper theft. Police are working under the Second-hand Goods Act.”