Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said on Thursday that housebreaking is the number one crime in the country.
Stats SA made the announcement during a press briefing on the release of the Victims of Crime 2018/2019 report.
The agency said the report took a closer look at household and individual crime incidents such as vehicle hijacking and home robbery.
“There were about 1.3 million incidences of housebreaking affecting 5.8% of households in South Africa,” the agency said.
Male-headed households, households in metros, Indian/Asian households followed by white households, very low and very high-income households, and households in Northern Cape, Gauteng, and KwaZulu-Natal are the most likely victims of housebreaking, the agency said.
“Approximately 48% of affected households reported incidences to the police.”
This is according to the Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey (GPSJS) 2018/19 released by Stats SA.
“Data on victims of crime was previously collected through the Victims of Crime Survey (VOCS); this survey was redesigned into the GPSJS to make provision for new information required on governance. Thus far, two reports from GPSJS have been published – one on governance themes and the other on victims of crime.”
In 2018/2019, there were about 260,000 incidences of home robberies, affecting roughly 1% of all households in the country, Stats SA said.
“The most likely victims of home robbery were households in metros, white-headed households and households headed by young people. The most common weapons used in home robbery were guns (54%) and knives (47%). Around 60% of households reported one or more incidences of home robbery to the police. The number of households that reported incidences of home robbery is about 120,000.”
Some of the key findings of the report are:
Theft of motor vehicles
There were an estimated 83,000 incidences of theft of motor vehicles in 2018/19, affecting 0.4% of South African households. The most likely victims of motor vehicle theft were male-headed households, households in metros, white-headed compared to black African households, young adult households compared to households headed by the elderly, and high-income households. About 86% (an estimated 63,000) households that experienced theft of motor vehicles reported this to the police.
An estimated 12,000 murders were committed in 2018/19, affecting about 0.07% of households in South Africa. All affected households reported incidences of murder to the police. According to SAPS data, there were 32,000 murders during the same period. The main reason for the huge gap between GPSJS estimates of murder and SAPS statistics is that GPSJS estimates are based on murders that are known to households. The SAPS handles murders that may not be known to households such as murders of homeless people, immigrants, temporary visitors and gang-related murders.
In 2018/19 there were more or less 500,000 incidences of assault experienced by 0.7% of individuals aged 16 or above. The most likely victims of assault were males and the young. About 50% of victims of assault reported these incidences to the police. This amounted to about 140,000 individuals who reported assault to the police. The number recorded by SAPS for the same period was approximately 330,000. The lower estimate from GPSJS may be because GPSJS excludes assault of children under the age of 16.
Hijacking of motor vehicles
There were roughly 32,000 incidences of hijacking of motor vehicles in 2018/19. This includes the hijacking of trucks. About 0.08% of individuals aged 16 and older were hijacked. Approximately 85% of all hijackings were reported to the police. The estimated number of hijackings reported to the police was 28,000, while SAPS data reported about 17,000 hijackings.
Theft of personal property
In 2018/19 there were about 1.2 million incidences of theft of personal property affecting 2.5% of people aged 16 or older in South Africa. The most likely victims of this crime were males, white, the young, and people living in Western Cape and Gauteng. The GPSJS estimates of the number of victims who reported these incidences to the police is in agreement with SAPS data.
There were about 580,000 incidences of street robbery in 2018/19, affecting about 1% of the people aged 16 or older. Males were more than twice as likely as females to be victims of street robbery. Similarly, people living in metropolitan areas were more likely to be victims of street robbery than those living in non-metros. Western Cape had the highest (1.9%) percentage of people aged 16 and above who were victims of street robbery compared to other provinces. The weapons most commonly used for street robbery were knives (62%) and guns (37%).
The perception of safety by people who live in South African is vital. The report indicates that the percentage of people who felt safe walking alone in their areas during the day increased from 79% in 2017/18 to 83% in 2018/19. Those who felt safe walking alone in their areas during the night increased from 29% in 2017/18 to 35% in 2018/19. Males felt safer than females during the day and at night, and those in rural areas (24%) felt safer than those in urban areas (15%) and metros (8%) during the day. About 45% of people in metros felt unsafe at night compared to urban (42%) and rural people (39%).