On Friday, 18 February, South African Police Service (SAPS) published the latest official crime statistics. Showing that overall, there has been a slight decrease in recent criminal activity. However, the percentage of more violent crimes has gone up. But it is important to remember that this is based purely on crimes that are either reported or discovered through police action.
So in order to get a better picture of the true-crime levels, we need to take into consideration the supplementary information from surveys such as the Victims of Crime survey. Published by Statistics South Africa, the most recent Victims of Crime survey has shown that a large portion of crimes in South Africa is unreported.
The 2020/21 survey showed notable discrepancies between experiences of crime and reported crime in South Africa. Meaning that many citizens are not reporting crimes experienced. This is despite SAPS’ attempts to spread awareness on the importance of coming forward with any information regarding criminal activities. Such as the campaign run by Phalaborwa SAPS in August last year.
These are some examples of what the percentages of reported crime statistics for 2020/21 were compared to what Statistic South Africa estimates the real number to have been:
- Only about 56% of the over a million housebreakings.
- Just 55.9% of the approximately 141 000 violent home robberies.
- A mere 50.6% of roughly 56 000 cases of assault .
- Only about 30,5% of individuals who experienced theft of personal property.
- But about 91,0% of theft of motor vehicles.
Some of the statistics from the 2020/21 report are:
- An estimated one million Housebreaking/burglary incidences.
- About 212,000 households experienced car theft.
- Roughly 151,000 people experienced a hijacking.
- An estimated 844,000 incidences of theft of personal property.
- A rough total of 346,000 incidences of street robbery.
Stats Compared to Last Year
Although the numbers show that there are many unreported crimes, there has nonetheless been a decrease in crime across three major categories. Housebreaking, theft of motor vehicle, and murder. Two examples of the declines are the 25% decrease in 2020/21 home robberies. And the incidences of murder of which there were an estimated 11 000, marking a 19% decline.
However, the argument is that this is partly due to the Covid-19 lockdown. And at the same time, we have to consider that lockdown may have increased the chance of domestic violence. According to UN Women, “Since the outbreak of COVID-19, emerging reports have shown that several types of violence against women and girls have intensified”.