Police ‘concealing’ crime figures ahead of election

Henry

The fact that the police did not release the quarterly crime statistics on Friday, as expected, shows that the rising crime levels for the government are an embarrassment that it wants to hide so soon before the election.

Dr. Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus, says that the previous statistics, which were issued in February this year, showed that especially violent crime continues to rise and that South Africa is now rapidly becoming the most criminal country in the world.

“It is therefore unacceptable that members of the public, who have been handed over to criminals and violent crime, are not informed about the latest state of affairs,” he says.

Andrew Whitfield, the DA’s spokesperson on police, agrees that Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, delayed the release of the figures to avoid “embarrassment” before the election on 29 May. He also labels it as an “unacceptable politicization of statistics that are in the public interest”.

Earlier, the police announced a time frame with the publication dates of the statistics. So far, these dates have been kept.

“The fact that it was not made public raises the question: what are you hiding, min. Cele?” said Whitfield.

The pressure group Action Society also has questions, especially so soon before an election “which threatens the position of the government and one which many hope will be a turning point in the country’s current trajectory towards ungovernable anarchy”.

“Bheki Cele has shown that the ANC is more important to him than South Africans’ safety,” says Juanita du Preez, spokesperson for Action Society.

“It is bad enough that crime victims have to wait hours for the police to arrive at crime scenes; now the whole country has to wait for the police to report on it.”

Groenewald also says that with the decision the government is making it clear that it is putting the interests of the ANC above the safety and interests of members of the public. “Crime affects all South Africans, also the supporters of the ANC and the FF Plus will insist that it be made public before the election on 29 May.”

Action Society also demands greater transparency and says that unfortunately the crime figures, terrible as they are, are a misrepresentation of the real crime situation in South Africa. Action Society believes that people have lost all faith in the police and the justice system and therefore crime is vastly underreported.

“The publication of the crime figures, which were canceled at the last minute, is callous and an insult to the citizens of the country. This is an indication of the complete collapse of the police’s independence from the ruling party amid soaring violent crime and people’s lack of trust in the police, which is at an all-time high,” says Du Preez.

Whitfield says there is no reason to believe that the crime figures are not still following an upward trend – as in the past – and that this is the reason why the minister is concealing the statistics.

The DA has also already told the national police commissioner, gen. Fannie Masemola, wrote to demand that he intervene in the public interest and disclose the crime figures without delay. The party has also written to the statistician general seeking his intervention to ensure the credibility of the statistics.