Crime prevention and ultimate elimination is one of the priority goals of the National Development Plan (NDP). Crime affects all people irrespective of their background, and it is a topic that attracts a lot of media attention. Analysis will show that some groupings are affected by certain types of crime more than others. Crime statistics are essential in order to understand the temporal and spatial dynamics of crime. Such understanding is vital for planning targeted interventions and assessing progress made towards achieving a crime free nation where
“people living in South Africa feel safe at home, at school and at work, and they enjoy a community life free of fear. Women walk freely in the streets and children play safely outside”.
There are two major sources of crime statistics in South Africa, namely the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Statistics South Africa (Stats SA). The other smaller sources such as the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) are by no means insignificant, as they provide statistics for types of crime not adequately covered by the major players, such as domestic violence. While the methodologies used by the SAPS and Stats SA are very different, the two institutions produce crime statistics that complement each other. The SAPS produces administrative data of crime reported to police stations by victims, the public and crime reported as a result of police activity. Stats SA produces crime statistics estimated from household surveys. Crimes reported to the SAPS do not always have the same definitions as crime statistics produced from VOCS. In addition, not all crimes reported by the SAPS are reported by VOCS and vice versa. Working in close collaboration with Stats SA, the South African Police Service has undertaken to align its Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (CCSP) to the International Classification of Crime for Statistical Purposes (ICCS).
Highlights of the 2017/18 Victims of Crime report
Aggregate crime levels increased in 2017/18 compared to 2016/17. It is estimated that over 1,5 million incidences of household crime occurred in South Africa in 2017/18, which constitutes an increase of 5% compared to the previous year. Incidences of crime on individuals are estimated to be over 1,6 million, which is an increase of 5% from the previous year. Aggregate household crime levels increased in Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga. Individual crime levels increased in Free State, North West and Gauteng. North West experienced a drastic increase of 80% in the individual crime level.
Perceptions of South Africans on crime in 2017/18 were more skeptical compared to the previous year. About 42% thought property crime increased during the past three years. This is an increase of 6,9% from the previous year. 46% thought violent crime increased during the past three years, an increase of 4,5% over the previous year. Western Cape was the most skeptical about crime trends, as 84% of Western Cape residents thought that crime in South African increased or stayed the same. Mpumalanga was the least skeptical among the nine provinces, where 65% thought that crime increased or stayed the same during the past three years. Crimes that are feared most are those that are most common.
An estimated 79% of South Africans felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods during the day, which is a decrease of 6,7% from last year. About 32% of South Africans felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods at night, constituting an increase of 8% from last year. The highlights for household and individual experiences of crime from the 2016/17 VOCS report are as follows: