The overall crime rate in Gauteng decreased by over 14% for the period January to March this year. However, commercial crimes, truck and car hijacking, murder and sexual offences recorded increases compared to the same period for the previous financial year.

Gauteng Police Commissioner Elias Mawela presented the province’s fourth quarterly crime statistics to the Gauteng Legislature Committee in Johannesburg on Friday.

Gauteng recorded an overall decrease of 14,6% in the seventeen serious community crimes reported between January and March this year compared to the same period last year.

Gauteng comes second to the Western Cape which registered 16,3%.

Commissioner Mawela says the reduction is a result of the close working relationship between the police, other law enforcement agencies and the private sector.

“The biggest reduction in the number of cases registered in comparison with the previous year, was the common assault with 1 486 cases lower, followed by robbery with aggravated circumstances with 1 321 cases lower, and common robbery that recorded 785 cases less than the previous year. Of concern is that murder increased by 3.9% which translates to 36 cases higher.”

It is not only murder cases that went up, so is attempted murder, truck and car hijackings, commercial crimes, business robberies, stock theft and sexual assault.

Mawela says the contributing factors to the increased murder rate include house and street robberies and vigilantism.

“The issues of vigilantism are not only in Zandspruit it happens in many and especially townships. It happens in Alexandra, in Ivory Park. It happens in many townships in our province. And there is a number of reasons or factors that influence that. But I cannot pin down one reason that it is because people are complaining about police being non-responsive. There’s no that thing called mob justice there’s no justice in what they are doing. That is pure criminality and this is the people who disregard the laws of the land.”

Former Community Safety MEC and member of the Gauteng Legislature’s Community Safety Committee, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane says whilst she welcomes the decrease in the percentage of the crime rate, the challenge remains reducing the actual number of cases.

“In other areas, there’s a decrease from 52 000 to 48 000. And honestly speaking it is not a decrease that can be celebrated. That whilst we had 52 000 people attacked in the previous financial year or term we still have 42 000 people being attacked.”

Business Against Crime’s Fouche Burgers says the high levels of violent crime are impeding efforts to lure in foreign investors.

“It is very difficult to draw international investments into the country when there are high levels of violent crime. So we will never be satisfied with crime levels. But I think the team is doing a great job,” says Burgers.

The Commission on Gender Equality expressed concern about the withdrawal of criminal cases relating to gender-based violence.

CGE commissioner Ohara Ngoma-Diseko says more also needs to be done to improve the training of police officers with regards to handling cases involving victims of sexual violence.