Community members in iNanda, north of Durban, say they are not surprised that their local police station has again recorded the highest number of rape cases in the country.

Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed the 2019-2020 crime statistics last week.

Umlazi followed in second place for the number of rapes nationwide.

“Our most problematic areas … there is Umlazi and iNanda. So, that’s what the figures are telling us. They’ve got nothing to do with stats under lockdown. Those lockdown stats will come quarterly,” said Cele.

Minister Bheki Cele released the latest crime stats: 

Inanda and Umlazi also came in at three and four respectively for their murder figures for last year’s stats.

Crimes like murder, rape, sexual offences, and trio crimes feature highly in Umlazi and iNanda.  iNanda Community Police Forum Officer Mbongeni Phewa says many police officers are retiring in the area.

“More than 20 policemen have resigned; others took early retirement, but were never replaced up to now. Others have passed on and were never replaced. We are very short-staffed in this police station of iNanda. Those things are fundamental in this crime which is taking place in this area.”

Phewa says the station commander post has not been filled.

“The Department of Police must make sure that they get a person who is a station commander who will be responsible for everything. All these things are contributing to the crime in iNanda.”

Too many taverns

Besides these challenges, Phewa says the area has many taverns. He says he believes that alcohol contributes to the increased crime rate in the area.

This view ties in with comments made last week by Police Minister Bheki Cele, who stated that alcohol is linked to some of the crimes in iNanda.

“One other problem that we have found with iNanda somehow confirmed that most of the people are raped coming from shebeens … murders that go with these rapes. So, which means alcohol does play in these matters.”

Staff shortages

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) says the issue of short-staffed police stations needs urgent attention.

“Our concern, as Popcru, is that (of) the number of police officers that you have at the station versus the community members that they serve. We have been engaging government with the issue of downscaling police officers at the head office, so that they will come and beef up at the station level, but other than doing that they introduced another level, which is a district model and that model is taking members at the stations, which they don’t have and that is why there is an increase in crime. People who are supposed to be on the streets are sitting in their offices,” says the union’s Provincial Secretary, Nthabeleng Molefe.

Fear in communities

Several community members, when approached by the SABC for their views on crime, declined to speak, even anonymously, saying they feared for their safety should drug dealers and other local criminals hear their voices.

They say while they wait for the police leadership to get their local police station in order, they do not expect crime rates to decrease.