30 September 2015
Contact crimes in South Africa have dropped by 17.6% in the last 10 years. But these serious crimes against the person have seen a 0.9% increase in the past year. This is according to the annual national police statistics released by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko on Tuesday.
Contact crimes include murder, attempted murder, assault, sexual offences such as rape, and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
The high levels of violence and aggression in society was a serious concern, the minister said, requiring all South Africans to end it.
“The trends for the past 10 and five years have shown a decrease, while in the year under review there has been an increase in certain categories of crime,” Nhleko said. “In essence, the issue of contact crimes is a social phenomenon and is a matter that needs to be dealt with at a multidisciplinary level across society.”
South Africa’s police force is responsible for a population of over 54 million, with one officer for every 358 citizens.
“The National Development Plan places emphasis on the creation of partnerships in creating conditions of safety and security,” Nhleko said.
“We will continue to work and harness efforts and remain committed to building partnerships with business and communities in fighting crime and the eradication of criminality from our society.”
Brand South Africa’s flagship Play Your Part initiative aims to inspire South Africans to work together to overcome these and other pressing social problems. As active citizens we can all create positive change.
Crime statistics in brief
In the 2014/15 financial year there were a total of 616 973 contact crimes reported to the police, making up 34.4% of all reported crimes. This was an increase of 5 399 from the 2013/14 reporting year.
Contact-related crimes, which include arson and malicious injury to property, increased by 1.9%. Property – including burglary at non-residential premises, vehicle theft and stock theft – dropped by 0.8% in the past year.
Other serious offences such as theft, fraud and shoplifting fell from 510 748 in 2013/14 to 499 698 in 2014/15. But car hijackings climbed by 14.2%, and truck hijacking by 29.1%. Robberies at residential premises also increased, by 5.2%.
Police seem to be winning the war against bank robberies and cash-in-transit heists, the figures reveal. South Africa only saw 17 bank robberies in the past year – down from the previous 21 – while robberies of cash-in-transit vehicles fell from 145 to 119.
While crimes against women and children remain a pressing social problem, the figures show progress. Sexual offences such as rape dropped in the past year, with the 53 617 incidents reported constituting a 5% decrease on the previous year.
According to Nhleko, over 80% of South Africa’s national crime statistics are based on reports by the community – when someone walks into a police station to report a crime.
Other than contact crime, the past 10 years have also seen a drop of 15.5% in contact-related crimes, a 7.6% decrease in other serious crimes, and a 2.3% decrease in property crime.
Police arrested and charged perpetrators in 83.4% of the serious crime cases reported by the community, the minister said. A total of 1 795 947 people were arrested and charged, of which 4 808 were taken in by the elite Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, or Hawks.
In the courts, 1 043 life sentences were imposed on 739 suspects, while 686 police were arrested for various types of crimes in 2014/15. Police also recovered 36 186 vehicles reported lost or stolen.