The city of Cape Town has seen a 40% increase in the reported murder rate in the last five years, according to a new report…
The city also has the highest reported rates of murder, robbery and property-related crimes, compared to eight other major cities in South Africa.
These were some of the findings in the 2017 State of Urban Safety Report, released on Wednesday by the South African Cities Network’s Urban Safety Reference Group (USRG).
The other cities analysed were Johannesburg, Tshwane, eThekwini, Ekurhuleni, Nelson Mandela Bay, Mangaung, Buffalo City and Msunduzi.
The report highlighted how quality data at a city level allowed for more efficient targeting and use of resources to fight crime.
Western Cape Community Safety MEC Dan Plato said the report should be a “wake-up call” for national police management.
He said the sharp increase in Cape Town’s reported murder rate was in line with the department’s own analysis of crime statistic trends.
“Urgent intervention is required from national SAPS to properly resource the police, if we are to collectively stem the tide against violent crime in the country and the Western Cape,” Plato said.
The report used the national SA Police Service crime statistics that were released in September 2016. It then compared the crime figures, based on population growth per city. It also used subjective indicators taken from the 2016 Community Survey.
The report found that Cape Town residents were more affected by, and fearful of, crime than residents in other cities
The city had a lower rapid population growth than Johannesburg and Tshwane, and lower population density than Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.
It also boasted the lowest level of poverty (as measured by the Human Development Index), the lowest income inequality, and the second lowest youth unemployment rate.
“So, what is driving the city’s extremely high levels of crime? An answer may lie in the disproportionate access to alcohol, drugs and firearms, which is more than twice that of any other city,” the report stated.
“This suggests that access to alcohol, drugs and firearms is an important driver of the city’s high crime levels, and therefore one of the most productive areas for crime reduction policy focus.”
It cautioned that these police-detected crimes were not a perfect measure and should be interpreted with caution, as high rates of these crimes could reflect police priorities.
The report looked at some of the main types of crime in the nine cities over the past 11 years and compared them to national and average metro trends.
Greatest decrease in eThekwini
It showed that eThekwini had seen the greatest decrease in reported murder rates, followed by Buffalo City and Msunduzi.
The reported murder rates in the three Gauteng metros of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane remained below the national average.
“The three cities with the highest levels of fear (Cape Town, Buffalo City, and Nelson Mandela Bay) are also the three with the highest levels of murder.”
It found that Johannesburg’s crime rates were low to moderate when compared to the other cities, except for its second place ranking for robbery.
Despite its overall position, subjective indicators pointed to residents experiencing relatively high levels of crime and moderately high levels of fears of crime.
Tshwane had the lowest murder, assault and recorded sexual offences rates of all the cities
Crime in Mangaung was found to be largely dominated by interpersonal violence when compared to other cities.
It had the highest rate of reported sexual offences and the second highest rate of serious assault and property-related crime.
“Yet this does not reflect in the subjective indicators of crime, with residents appearing to be disproportionately unafraid of crime, having lower fear and experience of crime than residents of Ekurhuleni,” the report stated.