2007-02-16 : Leon queries Mbeki crime figures


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2007-02-16 : Leon queries Mbeki crime figures

Postby GOSA » Mon, 2007-02-19 15:11


Leon queries Mbeki crime figures

Cape Town, South Africa
16 February 2007 12:38

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Tony Leon has asked why the murder-conviction rate is so low if over 80% of murder victims in South Africa are killed by people they know.

In his weekly newsletter published on the DA's SA Today website on Friday, Leon questioned what he called "a dizzying series of statistics" contained in President Thabo Mbeki's response on Thursday to the State of the Nation debate.

"For the second time in Parliament in one week, the president quoted statistics which claimed that 81,5% of murder victims 'were killed by people they knew'.

"If this is correct, one wonders why is it that fewer than 11% of murders result in a conviction.

"If, as the president claims, 60% of murderers and rapists are known to families of the victims, why is the conviction rate not closer to 60% as well?" Leon asked.

Mbeki's response had been "to reel off a dizzying series of statistics detailing the dramatic increases in both the police budget and the size of the [South African Police Service] over the last few years".

But why had the police been so singularly inept in turning back the tidal wave of crime, despite these vast resources poured on them by an ever-willing state?.

"It is a grim reality that every year over 18 000 South Africans are murdered and 50 000 are raped.

"While the president claims that crime levels are decreasing, the Institute of Security Studies asserts that between 1994 and 2006 the total number of offences for the 21 most serious crime categories increased by 7%.

"Surely that means that both the criminal justice system and he police force [are] poorly led, ill-managed and in need of a major shake-up, as there can hardly be any other departments of state where less of a bang for the buck is achieved," Leon said.

'No empty theatrical gestures'

On Thursday, Mbeki said the government will continue to do everything possible to act against crime, but without "theatrics".

Responding in the National Assembly to criticism of his approach to crime, Mbeki said: "This I must say: for 64 years I have never had either the ability or the courage or the need to resort to grand theatrical gestures.

"I know this, as a matter of fact, that the overwhelming majority of the masses of our people would be gravely offended if tomorrow, to respond to the demands of the Pharisees, I should take to the stage to weep tears meant for the camera, to convince them of what they know, that the African National Congress, of which I am a proud member, now, for the first time in 95 years, has at last understood their pain, and is at one with them in lamenting their individual tragedies.

"There will be no empty theatrical gestures, no prancing on the stage and no flagellation, but we will continue to act against crime, as decisively as we have sought to do throughout the years of our liberation.

"From us, from the government, will issue no words that are lightly spoken," he said.

Mbeki was replying to points raised in the National Assembly during the debate on his State of the Nation address.

He said from 1994/95 to 2006/07, the police budget had increased from R7,7-billion to R32,5-billion.

The Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) visualised that the police budget for 2009/10 will be R43,6-billion -- "more than 600% of what it was when we achieved our freedom".

Police numbers have increased from 116 774 in 2001/02 to 155 000 in 2005/06.

"In terms of our MTEF planning, three years after this, as I indicated broadly last Friday, for the year 2008/09, the number will be 183 000."

What this means is that in seven years, the size of the police service will have been increased by at least 67 000 officers, significantly more than 50% of its size in 2001/02.

"These figures tell a simple story about the resources that our government has, through the years of freedom, allocated to the struggle for the safety and security of all our people, precisely because the achievement of this objective has always been one of the principal and therefore priority strategic objectives of the democratic revolution.

"About this, we will not apologise to anybody," Mbeki said. -- Sapa
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