By Steven Lang
There’s good news and bad news depending on where you live in Makhanda, according to the latest crime stats. On Tuesday, 30 May, the South African Police Service (SAPS) released crime statistics for the first quarter of 2023.
Two police stations serve Makhanda: Grahamstown Police Station on Beaufort Street and Joza Police Station on Sani Road in Joza.
Comparing contact crimes, such as murder, sexual offences, assault and robbery, it appears that the number of incidents reported at the Grahamstown Police Station during the first quarter has gradually declined over the past five years. There were 229 contact crimes in the first quarter of 2019, while there were 167 such offences in the first three months of this year.
In a similar comparison, the number of contact crimes reported in Joza has increased from 131 in 2019 to 180 in 2023.
There are substantially more property-related crimes reported at Grahamstown Police Station than at Joza Police Station. However, both stations have recorded a decline in these crimes. Property-related crimes include burglary at residential and non-residential premises, theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles, theft out of motor vehicles and stock theft.
Grahamstown Police Station reports in this category have declined from 233 incidents in 2019 to 156 in 2023, while in Joza Police Station, there was a drop from 69 to only 36 incidents.
Five incidents of stock theft were reported at Grahamstown Police Station but none at Joza Police Station.
Some categories in the published crime stats are not always easy to understand. The difference between burglary and robbery is that in the second case, either force or the threat of force is used against a person. In a burglary, no people are targeted directly.
Taking both stations together, there were 93 cases of assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, 187 reports of common assault, 19 of common robbery and 27 of robbery with aggravating circumstances. As a sub-category of aggravated robbery, assuming the victim suffered physical contact, three cases occurred at residential premises and one a non-residential premises. It’s not clear where the other 23 cases took place.
Some areas in Makhanda have been suffering under a wave of cable theft. Thieves steal electricity cables during load-shedding, and then entire suburbs remain without electricity for days at a time.
There is no ‘cable theft’ category, but there is a catch-all labelled ‘All theft not mentioned elsewhere’. This category had 144 reports in Grahamstown and 21 in Joza.
Notably, there was only one report of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If we’re looking for good news, then we find that there’s been only one case of car-jacking in Grahamstown in the first quarter of the last five years. In Joza, there’s been none at all.
The safest area in our region seems to be Riebeeck East, where only two contact crimes were committed in the reporting period. Those two crimes fell into the common assault category, and there were no sexual assault crimes and no robbery, but there were three cases of stock theft.
The local SAPS and security services were not available for immediate comment.