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Stats SA survey reveals dramatic increase in violent crime

03 October 2019 - 13:02 By Graeme Hosken
Women-headed urban households are 'more likely to be attacked'.
Women-headed urban households are 'more likely to be attacked'.
Image: 123RF/Allan Swart

South Africans are increasingly feeling unsafe.

The latest crime survey, released by Stats SA in Pretoria on Thursday, has revealed dramatic increases in violent crimes, especially murder, assault and sexual offences.

The survey, part of a larger, three-year survey, looked at people’s experiences of crime in the 2017/2018 financial year.

Releasing the results, part of the larger Governance, Public Safety and Justice survey, statistician-general Risenga Maluleke said 30,000 households across SA were surveyed.

The data shows that women-headed urban households were more likely to be attacked than households run by men, with 43% of women feeling unsafe.

Maluleke said there was also a “dramatic increase” in the percentage of victims of sexual offences, “which are in line with police crime statistics”.

He said the data, based on people’s perceptions and experiences of crime, differed from that of the police in that “we talk to the victims and conduct household surveys.

“Regardless of whether people reported the crimes they experienced, we speak to them.”

He said the survey was designed to explore people’s perceptions on issues of safety.

It looked at how households and individuals experienced crimes like housebreaking, house robbery, damage to property, murder, sexual offences, arson, vehicle theft, street robbery, fraud, assault and hijacking.

The survey showed there were:

• 1.3m housebreaking incidents [affecting 5.8% of households surveyed]. Gauteng had the highest number of housebreakings, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape;

• 1.2m personal theft incidents [affecting 2.5% of people surveyed], with the most occurring in Gauteng and the Western Cape, and affecting young men;

• 580,000 incidents of street robbery, with young men most affected;

• House robberies declined, with 260,000 incidents reported [1% of households, with the most likely victims white households headed by young adults]; and

• Guns were used in 54% of house robberies and knives in 47% of them.

Maluleke said that on a positive note, people increasingly felt safe while walking, especially in rural areas.

“On an individual level, 83% of those surveyed felt safe walking in the streets, with a 3% increase in people feeling safe walking alone in the streets at night.

“But, when it comes to the differences in perceptions between men and women, 46% of females felt unsafe walking alone at night, compared to 41% of men.”

He said the data would be made available to various government departments, including the police and justice cluster, to help develop crime-fighting strategies and reduce crime.