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The shocking truth about rape in South Africa

The shocking truth about rape in South Africa

International finance magazine The Economist has run a feature uncovering what it calls South Africa’s ‘disgrace’ – laying bare unsettling rape statistics in some regions in South Africa.

The publication cited an anonymous survey conducted in 2016 in Diepsloot – a densely population township north of Johannesburg – where 38% of men (two in five) admitted to having forced a woman into have sex with them.

Extending the questions to broader violence – having beaten or threatened to hurt a woman – the statistic jumps to 54%, almost three in five men.

Even more problematic findings came out of the study, one of which is a widely known problem in South Africa: a large number of rape cases go unreported, and when they are reported, little is done.

According to the study, of over 500 sexual assault cases reported to the Diepsloot police since 2013, only one case led to a conviction. According to The Economist, it is estimated that only one in every nine cases of rape is reported to the police.

Rape statistics in South Africa

Coverage of rape in South Africa has been controversial and notoriously misinformed for many years. This is because of the aforementioned low reporting of rape cases, and poor record keeping and reporting of rape statistics.

Simply put, beyond the official number of cases reported to the SAPS, we do not know the true extent of rape and sexual assault in South Africa.

An infamous – and debunked – statistic quoted by South African actress Charlize Theron, and widely cited in media across the world, was that a woman or child is raped every 26 seconds in South Africa.

This statistic would imply that over 1.2 million women and children are raped every year. The source of the claim was a 1998 estimate from a Cape Town Rape Crisis centre, based on the understanding that only one in 20 rapes are reported.

This figure has been repeatedly used by international media, and repeatedly shot down.

The most recent data from the South African Police Service shows that between April 2016 and December 2016, there were 30,069 reported cases of rape – down from 32,161 cases over the same period in 2015.

This data shows that South Africa’s rape statistics are double the country’s murder rate over this (275 day) period at 53.8 cases per 100,000 people in the country. This equates to one person getting raped every 13 minutes.

Assuming that The Economist’s estimate that one in every nine cases go unreported, that figure gets even more alarming, to someone being raped every 2 minutes.

Local fact-checking group Africa Check has gone to great lengths to correct false South African rape stats being spread around, and has explained why it is dangerous to claim any country as the ‘rape capital of the world’.

It noted that South Africa’s legal definition of rape is very broad. The act states that “any person (‘A’) who unlawfully and intentionally commits an act of sexual penetration with a complainant (‘B’), without the consent of B, is guilty of the offence of rape”.

This includes the oral, anal or vaginal penetration of a person with a genital organ, anal or vaginal penetration with any object and the penetration of a person’s mouth with the genital organs of an animal.

Statistics provide to Africa Check by the South African Police Service revealed that 42,596 rapes were reported in 2015/16.

Read: South Africa’s latest crime stats: everything you need to know

BusinessTech's Staff Writer is directly plugged into the South African Internet backbone, and spits out press releases and other news as they receive it. They are believed to be cl...
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  • RodneyVikens

    Just yesterday a women got stabbed and raped close to my home. 10 in the morning. But then again the government couldn’t care less. Why bother reporting it to the police? Nevermind the kids who get raped on their way to school by some taxi drivers….. Sick.

    • Blapartheid Zulu

      its fine, they will vote the anc again so they can go through the same terror. They rather live in fear than vote for a competent government.

  • NosySnoopy

    This is a copy-and-paste of one of my previous comments:

    When I see crime in SA that is declining I assume that either A) the statistic is false or B) the crime is not being reported anymore, because why.
    I also feel that if race can be used as a measure in business, employment and sport, it should also be included in crime statistics.

    • Robert Dixon

      Never saw the race thing this way – seems reasonable.
      The ANC can’t have it both ways (even though they try!)

  • Jodie Robinson

    “This equates to one person getting raped every 13 minutes.

    Assuming that The Economist’s estimate that one in every nine cases
    go unreported, that figure gets even more alarming, to someone being
    raped every 2 minutes.”

    But if 8 out of 9 go reported, then there’s one rape every 11 minutes and 33 seconds per rape.

  • OWL

    Could one say there is a “culture” of rape?
    Dear heavens, don’t you DARE, if you are a white judge!!
    I actually cannot wait for Judge Mabel’s court case.

    • Comrate

      “There is a culture of rape”.
      “it is your culture to rape”….this are 2 different statements

    • lino_lupus

      …resend yout comment to hypocrite feminazi Gillian Schutte……

  • Bob

    We’ll need a new ministry soon to manage this activity?

  • ***Some Text Missing***

    Well, Zuma got away with it. So what message did they think it would send to men. Really disgusting.

  • chunk


  • Castration by means of a rubber mallet for all sex offenders! That will effectively also stamp out the possibility of repeat offenders!

    • TheBergbok

      Brilliant. A few more jobs created.. ( forsweet thing Feminists) LOL.

  • brz

    I still wonder if Charlize’s estimate was not the correct one.

  • Prometheus_Revisited

    In the Diepsloot survey 38%of men admitted to rape. These men could have engaged in this behaviour with multiple women. With these sort of statistics, Mabel Jansen still gets accused of racism when she says there is a cultural problem

  • Joe Black

    If pride is even remotely a priority for a man then rape is not an option.

    No man who rapes women can ever claim to be proud. It is not the action of a real man.

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