SA rape stats down ‘but still too high’

20 September 2012

While rape and sexual offences continued to decline in South Africa in 2011/12, the figures for these crimes remain unacceptably high, says Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Releasing the country’s national crime statistics in Cape Town on Thursday, Mthethwa said that sexual offences had decreased by 3.7% between 1 April 2011 and 31 March 2012, while rape was down by 1.9%.

“One area that remains stubbornly high is around sexual offences,” Mthethwa told journalists. “The decrease should be understood in the perspective, that as government we still remain concerned about the conviction rate of criminals who commit such crimes.

‘More resources, better training’

“We need to emphasise that as government we are … still concerned about the scourge of rape in our country … More resources and better training of police mechanisms are now being put in place,” Mthethwa said.

“It is also influenced by a reporting behavior. If victims trust the police, then you will get more reporting. So the issue of under-reporting remains a challenge, and not just in South Africa but internationally,” Mthethwa said.

Another area of concern was that young people were increasingly becoming the targets of criminals.

‘Young children increasingly targeted’

“One of the shifts we have witnessed is that although crimes against women and children are decreasing, we are now seeing a trend where young children are now being targeted and abused,” Mthethwa said.

“We shall be intensifying the war against [the abuse of] young children to ensure that this trend is reversed.”

There needed to be more awareness among parents and guardians that children needed to be looked after and protected.

Efforts to address the high number of rapes and sexual offences included working towards a relationship with the judiciary that would see such cases prioritised, and the re-launching of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit within the South African Police Service in 2009

The unit had helped secure convictions, in cases involving victims over the age of 18, totaling 10 854 years and 131 life sentences, and for victims under the age of 18, totaling 10 345 years, Mthethwa said.