Media Release – Exploration of selected contact crimes in South Africa: In depth analysis of the Victims of Crime Survey Data

Media Release 

3rd May 2016

Exploration of selected contact crimes in South Africa: In depth analysis of the Victims of Crime Survey Data


According to the Victims of Crime Survey Data report released by Stats SA, more females (71,3) experienced sexual offence than their male (28,7%) counterparts; while more males (72,9%) experienced assault than females (27,1%) during 2014/15. Households who are headed by females (61,4%) were more likely to experience murder when compared to male-headed households(38,6%).


The study found that most of these crimes are likely to occur either in the home or amongst people who know each other and with the influence of either alcohol or drugs. This implies that regardless of whatever crime strategies the police adopt, many of these crimes will continue to occur unless behaviour and value change takes place in society. The key findings of the study indicate that victims of assault are most likely to be single (63,5%),within the younger age groups (16-34 years),  have some or completed secondary education and are within the intermediate living standard measure (64,3%).


The results indicate that the most common place of occurrence of assault was in the street (39,4%), followed by home (32,8%), these findings are consistent over the years. The results further indicate that males were more likely to experience assault in the street (45,1%) and females at home (57,8%). Assaults were mostly perpetrated by known people. Individuals aged 15–34 years contributed the highest percentage of assault offenders (64,5%). The motive most cited for assault was ‘anger towards a person and/or their family (45,1%), followed by jealousy(23,5%). Findings further indicate that alcohol and/or drugs influenced assault, regardless of where they occurred. The results from the Victims of Crime Survey show that in over 85% of incidents of assault, a weapon was used and/or resulted in injury to the victim. A knife is the most commonly used weapon during assault incidents, followed by a club. Similarly, when comparing these findings with those of Mortality and causes of death, assault was one of the main causes of unnatural death, particularly amongst young men.


Victims of sexual offence are most likely to be single (83,1%), young people (aged 20–34 years); in the intermediate Living Standard Measure (73,7). Most incidents of sexual offence occurred at home(40%). Known people were the main perpetrators of sexual offence, where the majority of incidents were committed by a spouse/lover(25,5%). While individuals who experienced sexual offence mostly indicated that the motive behind victimisation was anger towards them and/or their families, a worrying factor is that those that occurred at home were due to attempted rape. The main offender of sexual offence was individuals aged 15–34 years (62%). A discussion on post-victimisation care indicated that individuals were generally aware of medical, counselling and safety services that they could access after the incidents.


About half of the victims of murder in urban metros were main sources of income for the households (49,1%) while more than half of the victims of murder in rural settlements were the main sources of income for their households (60,5%). About 35,1% of incidents in urban metros and 38,2% in rural areas were perpetrated by people aged 35–54 years. Jealousy was perceived as the main motive for murder committed by people aged 15–34 , while the main motive for murder committed by people aged 35–54 years was perceived to be money and other financial motives.


Findings further indicate that the police were generally able to detect murder incidents as about half of people in urban areas, who had a murder in their household, knew the perpetrator from a police report. In rural areas, people generally were not aware of who had committed murder, however, it is important to note that general community knowledge also facilitated knowledge of the perpetrator. This may serve as an indicator of a higher level of social cohesion in rural areas, when compared to urban areas. In the urban metro (s), a gun was the most commonly used weapon to commit murder and a knife was the most used in other urban areas and rural areas. Households living in urban metro(s) indicated that murder(s) that took place were part of an on-going problem in which more people were likely to die, this could be attributed to gang-related violence. Majority of those residing in rural area(s) perceived murder as a once-off incident.


About the report                                                                                                        

The Crime statistics series III: Exploration of selected contact crimes in South Africa 2010–2014/15 report is part of a series of Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS) thematic reports aimed at providing an in-depth understanding of aspects of crime and primarily focuses on the factors which increase or decrease the risk of social fabric related or selected contact crimes within South Africa.

Issued by Statistics South Africa


Ms Kefiloe Masiteng

Deputy Director General: Population & Social Statistics

Tel: (012) 310 4663



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