News / Africa

Report: South Africa Crime Rate Shows Sharp Decline

Delia Robertson

South Africa’s latest annual crime statistics, released Thursday, show that the downward trend in the country’s crime rate is continuing. There has been a significant reduction in most violent crimes.

South Africa's number of attempted murders is down by more than 12 percent in the year ending in March.  And, Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa told a media briefing in Pretoria the incidence of murder has declined by 40 percent since 1994.

“Murder is one of the most reliable form[s] of crime statistics and during 2010-2011 the figure has ropped below [the] 16,000 figure with 15,940 cases being recorded.  And we are encouraged to see the murder ratio decreasing by 6.5 percent [in the past year],” Mthethwa said.

The statistics show that apart from rape, which is up by 2.1 percent, most personal contact violent crimes have been reduced, as have other key crimes such as carjacking.  Experts say the increase in the number of rapes and sexual assaults could mean that more people are reporting these crimes. Mthethwa says accurately quantifying sex related crimes is always difficult.

“The reality is that rape, based on international trend[s], is often under reported but as we continue to improve our criminal justice system we could see more reporting by victims.  After all the eradication of violence targeted at women and children remains one of the key priorities of government,” Mthethwa said.

Armoured car robberies and bank robberies are also down, but bombing of automatic teller machines is up by two-thirds.  Experts say this is crime displacement, criminals changing their crime targets to easier targets.

Experts say increases in reported drug, alcohol, and firearms crimes is actually good news, saying this indicates that policing in these areas has improved, resulting in more arrests.

In welcoming the latest statistics, Business Against Crime SA says the year-on-year reduction is the consequence of systematic improvements in the criminal justice system and improved policing.  The South African Institute of Race Relations says the data suggests that progress is slowly being made in securing a safer society, but warned that crime is still higher than most other countries.

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