Alzane Narrain and Christopher Motabogi
Two Sundays ago, Setshego Mothobi had a “rude awakening” when he discovered the body of an unknown man killed along the Dewetsdorp Road outside Bloemfontein. He promptly summoned police to the scene. Mothobi was one of the exceptions. The SA Police Service complains that most people fail to report incidents of crime or report false cases with the South African Police Service (SAPS).
“False cases not only waste police resources and time on cases with no merit, but it also gives an inaccurate picture of crime in crime statistics, which once again lead to ineffective allocation of manpower and resources to a specific area where crime is indicated as problematic,” says police spokesperson, Annelie Wrensch. Those found to have lied, can be charged with perjury. Wrensch says it is difficult to determine scientifically the number and type of cases not reported as there is no statistical evidence available.
“Only a survey amongst the public will be able to determine the number and type of crime and why it is not reported,” says Wrensch.
Bloemfontein Courant conducted a survey and found that most crimes were not reported as the public was either sceptical of the police’s ability to arrest perpetrators or had not received any feedback from police on previously reported cases.
“I’ve been robbed and attacked many times. I opened a case and it just vanished and I was told the police can’t trace the culprits. I would have loved for them to have been arrested as they hurt and robbed me of many of my belongings,” says Monkie Phama.
Peet Coetzer and his wife, Hester, said that they would not report crimes to the police because the criminals never get caught.
“My phone was stolen and I reported it to the police, but they never even attempted to catch the criminals,” says Hester.
Salome Bothma says that she has never been a victim of crime and is very happy about it; however, she would report criminals because they must be punished for their actions.
Meanwhile, Eastern Free State police manning the N3 highway from Bloemfontein to Durban says they’ve also noticed a tendency among truck drivers reporting alleged hijacking incidents, only days later. “We say it’s better for people to have emergency numbers such as 10 111 which when called, link the caller to the nearest police station whose members can come to assist you,” says police spokesperson Christopher Mophiring. He says no cases of theft or hijacking have been reported in Phuthaditjhaba, since truck drivers have started parking their vehicles close to the local police station.
“Experience also indicated that crimes that are taking place in the domestic environment are not reported due to the stigma attached to it, like physical and sexual abuse and rape. Another reason for not reporting these types of crimes are that mostly the victims are in a dependency relationship to the perpetrator,” says Wrensch. Police have warned against insurance fraud whereby the public claim from insurers under the pretext that they were victims of crime.