South Africa crime stats 2019: everything you need to know

The South African Police Service, with Stats SA, has published the country’s crime statistics for 2018/19, showing which types of criminal activity have increased – and decreased – in the past year.

The stats cover 21 crime categories – 17 of which are reported by the public, and four of which are as a result of police activity.

Understanding the changes, the 17 reported crimes should show a decrease to indicate improvement in that category, while the four police-reported crimes should increase, to show more effective policing.

Changes to crime stats in those latter four categories do not necessarily indicate an increase in those types of crimes, but could be attributed to more intensive police activity.

The statistics cover all reported crimes between 1 April 2018 and March 2019.

A total of 2.01 million crimes were recorded in 2019 – down from the 2.09 million recorded in 2018. This represents a 1% increase in the number of reported crimes in the 17 public categories, along with a massive 22% decline in the number of crimes as a result of police action.

Crimes detected as a result of police action cover crimes discovered by active policing, namely road-blocks and raids. Categories covered by this are the illegal possession of firearms, DUI or driving under the influence (of drugs or alcohol); and the use, possession or trade of illegal drugs.

The reason highlighted for the major drop in the number of crimes detected through police action was due to the country’s new position on the private use of cannabis, which resulted in far fewer arrests in this category, the SAPS said.

However, there was also a worrying drop in the number of arrests made relating to illegal firearms in this category.

Here are the stats for the general categories:

SA crime stats for 2019 (1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019)

Category 2018 2019 Change
Contact Crimes 601 366 617 210 +2.6%
Contact-related Crimes 115 361 117 172 +1.6%
Property-related Crimes 507 975 495 161 -2.5%
Other Serious Crimes 438 113 444 447 +1.4%
Total public reported 1 662 815 1 673 990 +0.7%
Crime detected as a result of police action 433 966 339 281 -21.8%
Total 2 096 781 2 013 271 -4.0%
  • 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 all 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 road-blocks and raids. Categories covered by this are the illegal possession of firearms, DUI or driving under the influence (of drugs or alcohol); and the use, possession or trade of illegal drugs.

Crime categories

Murder increased by 3.4%, the SAPS said, noting that 60% of all murders in the country took place on a weekend between 21h00 and 03h00. Including Monday, this jumps up to 70% of all murders. The police said that this is likely tied to alcohol and drug abuse, which ramps up over the weekend at these times.

In all provinces except the Northern Cape, the main weapon used in murder (and attempted murder) are guns, followed by knives. In the Northern Cape, knives were the most used.

In terms of sexual offences, the country has seen another drastic increase in reported crimes, up 4.6% from last year. However, sexual offences detected as a result of police action has also seen a big climb, up 19%, showing active policing in this specific area.

The biggest jump in crime was seen in commercial crime, which was up 14.4%.

Crimes are counted per charge, not per docket, as one docket may contain many charges.

All crime stats include attempts, with the exception of murder and rape, as attempted murder and attempted rape are recorded separately.

Crimes detected as a result of police action are italicised in the table below. Here and increase is seen as a positive move (more active policing), while a decline is seen as more negative, hence their positioning.

These are the crimes which have increased and decreased in the last year:

Biggest increase to biggest decrease in crimes 2019

Category 2018 2019 Change
Sexual offences discovered as result of police action 6 701 7 976 +19.0%
Commercial crime 73 277 83 823 +14.4%
Arson 3 869 4 083 +5.5%
Sexual Offences 50 108 52 420 +4.6%
Attempted murder 18 233 18 980 +4.1%
Common assault 156 243 162 012 +3.7%
Murder 20 336 21 022 +3.4%
Stock-theft 28 849 29 672 +2.9%
Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm 167 352 170 979 +2.2%
Common robbery 50 730 51 765 +2.0%
Malicious injury to property 111 492 113 089 +1.6%
Robbery with aggravating circumstances 138 364 140 032 +1.2%
Robbery at residential premises 22 261 22 431 +0.8%
Burglary at non-residential premises 71 195 71 224 0.0%
Robbery at non-residential premises 20 047 19 991 -0.3%
All theft not mentioned elsewhere 302 656 300 457 -0.7%
Truck hijacking 1 202 1 182 -1.7%
Carjacking 16 325 16 026 -1.8%
Theft out of or from motor vehicle 129 174 125 076 -3.2%
Burglary at residential premises 228 094 220 865 -3.2%
Shoplifting 62 180 60 167 -3.2%
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs 86 160 82 912 -3.8%
Theft of motor vehicle and motorcycle 50 663 48 324 -4.6%
Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition 17 558 15 736 -10.4%
Robbery of cash in transit 238 183 -23.1%
Drug-related crime 323 547 232 657 -28.1%
Bank robbery 13 4 -69.2%

The full presentation is embedded below:

2018:19 Crime Stats by BusinessTech on Scribd


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South Africa crime stats 2019: everything you need to know