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New data shows shocking rise in violent crime in South Africa

New data shows shocking rise in violent crime in South Africa

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has presented the country’s latest crime statistics, covering the fourth quarter of the 2021/22 financial year, January to March 2022.

Total reported crimes during the period increased significantly, both as a result of reported crimes, and a jump in the number of crimes detected through police activity.

Contact crimes, including assault and sexual offences, saw a jump of 15%, with violent crimes like murder, assault and sexual offences also recording double-digit growth.

According to the SAPS, 6,083 people were murdered over the quarter (up 22%) – the equivalent of 68 people a day – which is the highest number recorded over this period in the last five years.

Attempted murders were up 25%, with the SAPS tracking 5,717 cases.

Across most violent crime categories, the stats for the quarter are the worst they have been for the same period over the last five years.

Category2017/182018/192019/202020/212021/22
Murder4 6684 8964 5894 9766 083
Attempted murder4 2434 647X4 2164 5825 717
Assault (GBH)41 07843 11340 16836 41742 992
Common assault39 31442 26242 86638 88945 746
Rape9 69510 7929 9059 51810 818

Contact-related crimes and other serious crimes were both up in the quarter, with a notable increase in car-jackings (+19.7%), truck hijacking (+31.4%), and assault (+18%).

Notably, of the 23 community reported crimes tracked by the SAPS, only four saw a decline compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, 14 other crime categories saw numbers jump by more than 10%, year on year.

On a more positive note, the stats also show increased police activity, with crimes detected as a result of police action also rising over the quarter.

The number of cases of driving under the influence spiked by almost 40%, while drug-related crimes detected was up 18%.

Provincially, Gauteng recorded 104,999 cases opened by the community. This is followed by the Western Cape with 72,448 cases, and KwaZulu-Natal with 60,108 cases.

In previous quarterly reports, the SAPS compared the 2021/22 stats to those in 2019, saying that the 2020/21 period was not comparable because of the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

Since the third quarter, 2019 comparisons have been dropped and figures have returned to regular year-on-year analysis.

SA crime stats: Q4 2020/21 vs Q4 2021/22

2020 vs 2021Jan-Mar 2021Jan-Mar 2022Change
Contact Crimes137 314157 907+15.0%
Contact-related Crimes25 58229 559+15.5%
Property-related Crimes91 22391 278+0.1%
Other Serious Crimes93 801101 643+8.4%
Total public reported347 920380 387+9.3%
Crime detected as a result of police action50 03460 151+20.2%
Total397 954440 538+10.7
  • Contact crimes include murder, attempted murder and sexual offences, as well as common assault and robbery.
  • Contact-related crimes include arson and malicious injury to property.
  • Other serious crimes include commercial crime, shop-lifting, and other types of theft – while aggravated robbery includes hijackings, robbery at residences, and cash-in-transit heists and bank robberies.
  • Crimes detected as a result of police action cover crimes discovered by active policing, such as roadblocks and raids. This category covers the illegal possession of firearms, DUI or driving under the influence (of drugs or alcohol), and the use, possession or trade of illegal drugs.

Biggest increases in crime categories for 4Q21

CategoryJan-Mar 2021Jan-Mar 2022Change
Bank robbery15+4 cases
Truck hijacking354465+31.4%
Robbery of cash in transit4253+26.2%
Attempted murder4 5825 717+24.8%
Arson732910+24.3%
Murder4 9766 083+22.2%
Carjacking4 5135 402+19.7%
Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm36 41742 992+18.1%
Common assault38 88945 746+17.6%
Malicious damage to property24 85028 649+15.3%
Sexual Offences12 13313 799+13.7%
Common robbery9 54910 787+13.0%
Commercial crime22 55825 431+12.7%
All theft not mentioned elsewhere59 64665 920+10.5%
Robbery with aggravating circumstances30 76832 783+6.5%
Stock-theft6 0896 243+2.5%
Theft out of or from motor vehicle20 11120 457+1.7%
Theft of motor vehicle and motorcycle9 2409 377+1.5%
Burglary at residential premises40 56840 960+1.0%
Robbery at residential premises5 2885 267-0.4%
Robbery at non-residential premises4 8724 700-3.5%
Burglary at non-residential premises15 21514 241-6.4%
Shoplifting11 59710 292-11.3%

Crime detected as a result of police action

CategoryJan-Mar 2021Jan-Mar 2022Change
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs8 58311 99239.7%
Drug-related crime35 93242 30917.7%
Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition3 1843 54211.2%
Sexual offences discovered as result of police action2 3352 308-1.2%
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Calvin The Patriot

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