Housebreaking a major headache in SA

11 October 2018 - 14:43 By Ernest Mabuza
The survey said 1.6 million individuals were victims of crime in 2017-18.
The survey said 1.6 million individuals were victims of crime in 2017-18.
Image: 123RF/Manuel Faba Ortega

Housebreaking or burglary was a major problem in 2017/18‚ accounting for 54% of all household crimes surveyed in the latest Victims of Crime Survey.

The survey‚ released on Thursday‚ is based on crime figures produced by Statistics South Africa‚ which are estimated from household surveys. It provides insight about the dynamics of crime from the perspective of households‚ and victims of crime.

It also explores public perceptions of police‚ prosecutors‚ the courts and correctional services in the prevention of crime and victimisation.

An estimated 832‚122 incidents of housebreaking occurred‚ according to the latest survey‚ compared to 776‚933 in the previous year.

There were an estimated 156‚089 incidents of home robbery‚ up from 151‚279 in the previous year.

Home robbery is classified as a crime where there is contact between the perpetrators and one or more household members. It is often more violent than housebreaking where there is no contact between the perpetrator and victims.

The survey reflected more than 1.5 million incidents of crime being experienced by households in South Africa in 2017-18 – an increase from about 1.2-million incidents recorded during the previous year.

The survey said 1.6 million individuals were victims of crime in 2017-18‚ of whom 74% experienced theft of personal property‚ robbery or assault.

Theft of motor vehicles increased from 47‚586 in 2016-17 to 56‚256 incidents in 2017-18.

Clothes (31%) were the most common items stolen during housebreaking‚ followed by cellphones (23.6%) and food (22.2%).

South Africans canvassed believed that crime‚ particularly property crime‚ had increased during the past three years.

Households were asked in the survey about their satisfaction with the way in which courts generally dealt with perpetrators‚ their reasons for being satisfied or dissatisfied‚ and their feelings about sentences imposed on perpetrators of crime.

The survey found that 54.2% of South African households were satisfied with how police dealt with crime‚ down from 57.3% the previous year.

Around 41.1% of households were satisfied with the way in which courts dealt with perpetrators of crime‚ down from 44.9%.

The majority (50.3%) of those who were satisfied with the courts‚ thought that sentences handed down were appropriate for the crimes committed.

Of those not satisfied with the performance of courts‚ the majority of households indicated that the courts were too lenient on criminals when passing judgment. This was followed by households who felt that perpetrators were released or that matters dragged on for too long.

However‚ the survey found South Africans to be forgiving of those who had served their time.

It found that as many as 74.3% of the households in the country were willing to welcome a former prisoner back in their community‚ and 79.6% would welcome them back into their mosque or church.

“More than two-thirds of households (65.8%) would welcome former prisoners as a next-door neighbour‚ while less than half of households in South Africa (48.5%) indicated that they were willing to provide employment to a former prisoner‚” the survey said.