ISS: Invest in social programmes to reduce violent crimes

Newham says there are worrying trends and more investment is needed in social crime prevention programmes.

JOHANNESBURG - The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) has urged authorities to invest in social programmes in order to help reduce violent crimes.

Police Minister Bheki Cele announced the 2018/19 crime statistics on Thursday morning. 

  • Murder increased by 3.4%

  • Sexual offenses increased by 4.6%

  • Attempted murder increased by 4.1%

  • Rape increased by 3.9%

  • Sexual assault increased by 9.6%

  • Car jacking decreased by 1.8%

  • Robbery at homes increased by 0.8%

  • Burglary at homes decreased by 3.2%

  • Cash-in-transit robberies decreased by 23.1%

ISS head of the justice and violence prevention programme, Gareth Newham says the statistics are worrying, as the murder trend has continued to increase.  

"We see that a lot of the murders are interpersonal, between people who know each other. Very high numbers are as a result of domestic violence - so that speaks to the issue of gender-based violence," he said.

"The other trend that we need to be worried about, is aggravated robbery ... unfortunately they [the police] are not taking street robbery seriously."

Newham says an effective criminal justice system is necessary but it alone won't improve public safety. He says levels of public violence are rising and is a warning sign that government should not ignore. 

"Increased government spending on policing and harsher sentences for offenders has not reduced violence. This is because the police cannot keep children safe after school when they are vulnerable, or men from beating their wives and partners over weekends."

Instead he says investing in programmes, including after-school care and anti-bullying education, is important.

Regarding murder, the ISS says tighter gun control is needed, as almost 60% of women who are murdered by their partners, are shot dead. 

"South Africa's high level of violence is rooted in its violent past and continues across generations. Most violent behaviour is learned or tolerated in the home, communities or schools where children either directly experience or witness violence. 

"Many people grow up believing that violence is an acceptable way to solve disputes or assert authority. This drives much of the violence that occurs between men in public places, and at home against women."

The ISS cited the World Health Organisation's INSPIRE framework, which encourages "increasing firearm control, providing support for parents and caregivers, providing trauma counselling and support for children who experience violence, and strengthening life skills training".