Crime declining but safety perceptions still an issue

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Crime levels in South Africa have been gradually declining, both in terms of the proportion of households and individuals that were victimised, the 2016/ 17 Victims of Crime Survey revealed.

With South Africans experiencing lower levels of crime, it was expected that communities would feel safer. Instead, the survey reveals that declining crime trends were accompanied by deteriorating feelings of safety among households, says the report issued by Statistics South Africa on Thursday.

The nationwide household based survey examines perceptions and experiences of citizens in all nine provinces.

According to the report, an estimated 1 468 278 crime incidents were experienced by 1 153 984 households in 2016/17. The victimised households represent 7.2% of all households in South Africa. Male-headed households had a higher proportion at 7.5% of victimisation compared to female-headed households with 6.6%.

The most common crime experienced in 2016/17 was housebreaking or burglary, which stood at 53%, followed by theft of livestock at 11% and home robbery with 10%.

“It is estimated that 776 933 housebreaking incidents were committed in 2016/17, affecting a total of 647 340 households,” the report said.

E Cape town suffers highest house robberies

Buffalo City in the Eastern Cape tops the proportion of households victimised through housebreaking at 6.9%.

Electronic equipment were the most common items stolen during housebreaking.

“It is therefore not surprising that the majority of households were actively taking measures to protect their homes,” the report said, indicating that about 51% of the households took protection measures for their homes.

The two main reasons given for not reporting to the police were “police could do nothing” and “the police would do nothing”.

A reported 38% of households that reported housebreaking were satisfied with police response.

Theft of personal property tops the individual crime list at 42%, followed by assault (18%) and robbery (16%).

Living in fear

Although households took measures to protect their property, the fear of crime persists in preventing them from engaging in daily activities.

About 32% of the respondents feared going to open spaces, 20% feared allowing children to play outside, while 15% feared walking to town.

The report estimated that a total of 121 764 households experienced “theft out of motor vehicles” in 2016/17, which represents 2.54 % of all households in South Africa.

A total of 139 432 incidents of theft out of a motor vehicle were experienced by households in 2016/17.

Stats SA said the results from the report aim to assist government to measure the extent and levels of crime. “A thorough understanding of crime dynamics in the country is essential for enabling strategic interventions,” Stats SA said.

Government regards crime prevention and safety as a high priority, as evidenced by Chapter 12 of the National Development Plan (NDP) and the current policies and strategies. –

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