Weaknesses inherited from Zuma years continue to hamper fight against crime – IRR

Institute says over past decade there has been a significant hollowing out of many of our institutions, not just SAPS

Institutional weaknesses inherited from Zuma years continue to hamper SAPS’s fight against crime – IRR

29 September 2020 

The recent high-profile murder of police investigator Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear heightens public concerns about rising crime during the economic downturn, with statistics showing that South Africans are distressingly vulnerable to stubbornly high levels of violent crime.

Murder rates, in particular, have remained consistently high over the past three years. In a global seting, only two countries with large populations – Brazil and Venezuela – have murder rates higher than South Africa’s.

These and other findings are reflected in a recent edition of FreeFACTS, the Institute of Race Relations’ (IRR) monthy digest of socio-economic data.

Key takeaways on crime are that:

The murder rate in 2019/2020 is at its highest since 2002/2003, at 36 per 100 000 people – the third highest murder rate of countries with large populations;

The rate of aggravated robberies has increased steadily over the past decade – from 203 per 100 000 people in 2010/2011 to 242 per 100 000 people in 2019/2020; and

Only drug-related crime rates have improved in recent years, having decreased significantly from 570 per 100 000 people in 2017/2018 to 286 per 100 000 people in 2019/2020.

According to Marius Roodt, Senior Policy Researcher at the IRR, crime levels of this nature are likely attributable to long-term shortcomings in effective policing by the South African Police Service (SAPS), and that institutional weaknesses within SAPS, which became pronounced during the presidency of Jacob Zuma, do not appear to have been overcome under the Ramaphosa presidency.

‘Crime rates have risen significantly in the past five years or so, having shown a steady decline after peaking in the mid-1990s. There are a number of factors behind this increase, but a primary one is the institutional weakening of the SAPS. This is unfortunately not a problem only in policing. Over the past decade there has been a significant hollowing out of many of our institutions, which has significant implications for the future success of this country,’ said Roodt.

Issued by Marius Roodt, IRR Senior Policy Researcher, 29 September 2020