#CrimeStats: South Africa’s year of crime outlined in tweets

#crimestats south africa 2017 tex texin flickr

The South African Police Service has today unveiled the results of its 2016/17 crime statistics report in Cape Town, and the numbers are anything but comforting.

In a precursor to the stats release, Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula issued a brief statement on Twitter.

“The SAPS national crime statistics measure twenty-one serious crimes. Seventeen of these crimes are reported by the community and the other four are detected as a result of police-initiated operations,” he tweeted.

He added that because of this, the 17 are “supposed to decrease” while the other four — “illegal possession of firearms and ammunition; driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs; possession of and dealing in drugs; and sexual offenses detected by the police” — should increase in accordance with police action and detection.

However, the statistics in various crime categories show increases and decreases.

Contact crimes — which includes murder, attempted murder, sexual offenses, common and grievous bodily harm (GBH) assault, and common and aggravated robbery — have seen a decrease of 2.4% over 2015/16, and a drop of over 80 000 cases since 2007/08.

Sexual offenses (-4.3%), GBH assault (-6.7%) and common assault (-5.2%) saw the biggest declines over the previous year. Aggravated robbery saw the largest spike, with a 6.4% increase over 2015/16.

Murder, although slowing year-on-year, saw a 1.8% increase in 2016/17.

In terms of provincial numbers, Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal saw the most reported cases. Mpumalanga and North West saw a 2% and 0.7% spike in reported cases respectively.

The Western Cape remained the sexual assault capital of South Africa, with over 1600 reported cases in 2016/17. It also saw the biggest increase year-on-year of 6%.

Rape cases have increased in North West and Gauteng. The former saw an additional 182 cases in 2016/17 over the previous year. Nationally, the number of reported rape cases decreased by 4%, but case numbers came close to exceeding the 40 000 mark.

That’s around 110 reported cases per day.

Gauteng however remained the carjacking capital of South Africa by quite some margin. It recorded over 8500 incidents in 2016/17 — a spike of 1200 over the previous year. Although only KwaZulu-Natal saw a larger spike — 21.5% — Gauteng saw close to three times the number of carjackings than any other province.

And speaking of carjackings, cash in transit heists have seen a notable spike in five provinces.

The Free States saw 12 reported cases, a 140% spike over the previous year. The Western Cape remained the cash in transit heist capital of the country, with 35 reported cases — 11 more than 2015/16.

Overall the number of cases reported nationally have dropped from 394 in 2007/08 to 152 in 2016/17.

Contact-related crimes include two specific offenses — arson and malicious damage to property.

This category has seen a drop nationally of 3.3% year-over-year, with arson experiencing a 11.9% decrease.

Arson is notably up in the Western Cape, with 24 more cases recorded in 2016/17 over the previous year. In Gauteng, the opposite was true. It saw a drop by over 260 reported cases.

Property-related crimes saw increases across all sectors in the Eastern Cape.

While burglary of residential premises have decreased for Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. These three provinces, nonetheless, recorded over 140 000 cases between them.

North West, Eastern Cape and Gauteng experienced the biggest increase in property-related damage. Although nationally, property related crimes did decrease by 0.5%.

Finally, crimes detected as a result of police action or detection saw an increase by 9.6% to more than 390 000 cases.

The full report is available on SAPS website.

Feature image: Tex Texin via Flickr (CC BY 2.0, resized)

Andy Walker, former editor


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