At last South Africa has some crime stats to be proud of. The latest Victims of Crime statistic survey released today by StatsSA says during the last five years South African households experienced a sharp decline of home robberies and housebreakings. The rest of the stats are not that good, however.
According to the latest stats home invasions declined from 931 000 (6,8%) in 2010 to (807 000) 5,7% in 2015/16.
Yet, the percentage of households experiencing other crimes remained constant or declined marginally over the same period. Theft of personal property also saw a steady decline from 889 000 (2,5%) in 2011 to 712 000 (2%) in 2015/16. Despite the good news about achievements over the last five years, South Africans feel that violent and property crime is increasing to the extent that the majority of households don’t feel safe to walk alone in parks or allow their children to play freely in their neighbourhoods; this is according to Statistics South Africa’s (Stats SA) Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS) released by the Statistician-General, Dr Pali Lehohla.
The VOCS provides information on crime trends and households’ perceptions about safety and law enforcement. When asked about their opinions on crime, households thought that housebreaking/burglary and home robbery were the most common and most feared types of crime. This is in agreement with the actual count of household experience of crime, where housebreaking/burglary and home robbery also emerged as the most prevalent household crimes.
The prevalence of housebreaking/burglary essentially remained unchanged at about 5% between 2010 and 2015/16, representing about 647 000 cases in 2015/2016. About 712 000 (2%) of individuals experienced theft of their personal property, while 254 000 (0,7%) experienced assault in 2015/16.
Crime reporting rates varies a lot depending on the type of crime from 95% in the case of murder to 17,3% in the case of crop theft were reported to the police. The majority of households said they did not report crime incidents to the police because they believed the police could not or would not do anything.
The survey showed declining trends in the households’ levels of satisfaction with the police and courts between 2010 and 2015/16. In 2011, an estimated 64,2% of households were satisfied with the police in their area, while about 58,8% were satisfied with the police in 2105/16. The decline in satisfaction with the police was most severe in the Western Cape from 71,3% in 2011 to 57,1% in 2015/16. Those who were satisfied with the courts thought that courts passed appropriate sentences, while of those who were satisfied with the police were of the opinion that the police were gender and disability sensitive and tolerant. The survey also provide evidence of decline in police visibility during the last five years.
From 2011 to 2015/16, a noticeable decline was observed in the percentage of households who felt safe walking alone both during the day or when it was dark while throughout the period the majority felt safer walking during the day than in darkness. Slightly more than a third of households felt safe walking alone in their area. As a result of fear of crime, households in South Africa take measures to protect themselves and their property. More than half of the households took physical protection measures for their homes and slightly more than a third of vehicle owners took protection measures for their vehicles. When asked about what they perceived to be the motive for perpetrators for committing property crimes, more than three-quarters of households in South Africa thought that property crimes were committed because of drug-related motives.
The perception that drugs were a reason behind the high prevalence of violent and property crime featured predominantly in Eastern Cape (90,1%), Western Cape (84,6%) and Gauteng (80,8%).
When households were asked about their knowledge of trafficking in persons, the majority indicated that they heard of trafficking in persons through the media. Most households thought that the perpetrators of trafficking in persons engaged in this crime for sexual exploitation of their victims and to extract their body parts. About 90% of households felt that young girls were most vulnerable to being victims of human trafficking.