The Police Ministry’s top brass appeared before the Parliamentary Committee of Police on Friday to table the 2015/16 crime statistics.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) released the crime statistics for various categories of crimes between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2016.
South Africa has seen a general downward trend in the number of crimes committed in the country. Reported serious crime decreased by 1.4%, but a problem still remains in the area of contact crimes.
“We are registering progress. We are beginning to see a decreasing trend. The only problem is contact crimes,” said Police Minister Nathi Nhleko.
There were a total of 2.1 million charges that were reported to the police in 2015/16.
About 1.7 million cases (or 83%) of these were reported by members of the public, with the rest having been detected by police activity.
Of the 1.7 million community-based reported crimes, about 65.9% emanate from contact and property related crimes. Contact crimes, which include crimes against a person, constituted the most charges reported by communities, at 35.2%.
Stats indicate that there were 623 223 reported contact crimes in this reporting period, while 616 973 were reported in the 2014/15 financial year.
This was followed by property-related crimes at 30.7% and other serious crimes at 27%.
Provincially, crime levels in Limpopo and Mpumalanga increased, while all other provinces decreased. The Northern Cape remained stable.
Categories of crime
The statistics also show that the murder rate is now 34 per 100 000, up from 33 last year. For the reporting period, there were 18 673 murders recorded nationally, up from 17 805 in 2014/15.
Police said the Northern Cape is the only province which has recorded a decrease in murder. The Western Cape recorded the lowest increase in the incidence of murder. The province still ranked the fourth highest contributor to the total number of murder counts reported in the country.
Countrywide, attempted murder increased by 3.4% in 2015/16, with 18 127 cases reported.
Sexual offences decreased by 3.2% with 51 895 cases reported. Robbery with aggravating circumstances increased by 2.7% to 132 527 cases, while common assault went up 2.2% to 164 958 cases. Gauteng and the Western Cape had the most incidents in this regard.
Robbery of residences declined by 2.7%, continuing a long-term trend, but robbery of non-residential properties increased by 2.8%.
Car hijackings increased by 4.3% but truck hijackings fell by 7.4%. Although on a decline (down by 13.6%), Gauteng remains the biggest hotspot for car jackings. The Western Cape had a 25% decline.
Arson has seen a decrease over the past three years, with 4.4% decrease (4 903 cases) in the current financial year.
Malicious damage to property decreased by 0.6% with 119 901 cases in the current financial year. In 2014/15, the number of reported cases stood at 120 662. There was a 3.1 % increase in commercial crimes, which stood at 69 917 cases. Shoplifting decreased by 3.6% to 68 786 cases.
Minister Nhleko attributed the crime trends to the fabric of the South African society as well as the use of drugs and alcohol consumption.
“As society as a whole, we need to put up quite an effort to deal with the social foundation of contact crime,” he said.
Police committed to winning fight
Acting National Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Kgomotso Phahlane said the gains made in the fight against crime show that police are working hard.
“When we say that we have made progress, sometimes it is not convincing, especially when we talk of … lives being lost… But the downward trend suggests our efforts are making a serious dent in reducing crime,” he told the Portfolio Committee.
Phahlane said they are going to continue turning the picture around, despite the profession being a thankless job.
“We remain loyal and committed to the fight against crime.”
Police attributed the success to their “Back to Basic” approach, which requires police to act with integrity, discipline and professionalism.
Other efforts include the enhanced police visibility, which implies more police officers in uniform to minimise the chances of crime being committed. – SAnews.gov.za
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