Joburg clamps down on crime with 1,500 new police officers

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) has published its latest crime tracking update for the month of August, reporting that it has arrested 1,101 motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.

While the police have clamped down on a host a criminal activities in the city, drunk driving is by far the most common type of crime leading to arrest.

The JMPD said its drunk driving operations are out in full force, which is evidenced in the number of arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol has increased substantially.

In terms of the top six crime types across all regions, the JMPD in August made:

  • 1,101 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol (790 in July)
  • 35 for hijacked or stolen motor vehicles (27 in July)
  • 34 for possession of unlicensed firearms (14 in July)
  • 13 for common robbery (17 in July)
  • 12 for assault (7 in July)
  • 11 for stolen goods (13 in July)

“The recent national crime statistics reveal a growing trend of crime across the country that has seen criminals hold our people at ransom,” said Joburg mayor, Herman Mashaba.

“It is for this reason that I have advocated for and launched Operation Buya Mthetho early in 2018. This programme has enhanced the city’s fight against criminal elements and lawlessness pervading our communities, hampering much-needed economic growth.”

It is because of these efforts that the city has been able to trace the unlawful use of services that are not being paid for, hindering the ability to deliver services.

Additionally, Mashaba said the launch of the Integrated Intelligence Operation centre (IIOC) Reaction Unit earlier this year has resulted in a significant decrease in response time and a number of arrests of perpetrators for armed robberies, theft, rape, and attempted murder specifically in the inner city of Johannesburg have been made.

In August, this unit arrested 69 suspects, recovered five firearms, and 15 hijacked or stolen motor vehicles, he said.

To boost policing in the city, Mashaba said that the JMPD will introduce an additional complement of 1,500 new officers, “who will be ready for active duty in the coming months”.

At the moment, the city has between 700 and 800 officers on patrol at any one time.

“Our crime-fighting and by-law enforcement capabilities will improve vastly when the new cohort of police officers begin their duties.”

Drunk driving is a national problem

The South African Police Services recently published the 2018/2019 crime statistics, showing the high rate of drunk driving across South Africa.

According to the report, there were 82,912 reported cases of drunk driving over the time period – 228 cases each day.

However, it should be noted that the number of people driving drunk on South African roads is likely significantly higher as the above statistics only include incidents reported to the police.

The majority of these cases were reported in Gauteng, followed by the KZN and the Western Cape.

The area with the most reported incidents was Durban Central, followed by Point (KZN) and Germiston (Gauteng) – though the number of cases are in the thousands in the greater Johannesburg area.

Given the prevalence of drunk driving in South Africa, which exacerbates an already too-high road fatality rate, there has been a strong push from government agencies to introduce stronger drunk driving laws.

In November 2018, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) proposed to the Department of Justice that driving under the influence (DUI), speeding and reckless or negligent driving be reclassified in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act.

This would include changing DUI from a schedule 2 to a schedule 5 offence – which would place drunk driving in the same ‘category’ of crimes as rape and murder.

It also wants arrested drivers to spend at least seven days behind bars before they can be considered for bail.

Read: South Africa’s massive drunk driving problem

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Joburg clamps down on crime with 1,500 new police officers