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

The South African Police Service (SAPS) and Stats SA have published quarterly crime statistics for the second quarter of the 2020/21 period, covering criminal activity reported between July and September 2020.

The data shows a massive up-tick in criminal activity almost across the board when comparing numbers against the previous quarter (April to June 2020) – this is largely due to the previous quarter being during heightened lockdown.

Ongoing analysis and reports of crime during lockdown pointed to a massive reduction in criminal activity during the initial stages of lockdown, especially ‘hard’ lockdown (level 5).

This was seen in a 72% reduction in murders, and an 81% reduction in carjacking. Similar trends were seen in reported assaults, attempted murders, robbery and rape.

However, these trends reversed and slowly returned to normal levels as lockdown eased. By July, insurers and tracking companies had reported vehicle theft and hijacking numbers were back to their pre-lockdown levels.

A better reflection of the crime situation in South Africa is comparing year-on-year numbers. Here, the data shows that crime activity in South Africa is lower than a year ago, due to the country still being under some degree of lockdown.

Police minister Bheki Cele said that the second quarter stats reflect “a South Africa operating under eased restrictions under the Disaster Management Act”. However, as restrictions ease and the country gets back to normal, the big drops in certain crime categories are expected to narrow.

SA crime stats for Q2 2020 (1 July 2020 to 30 September 2020)

Q1 vs Q2 Apr – Jun 2020 Jul – Sep 2020 Change
Contact Crimes 90 376 135 821 +50.3%
Contact-related Crimes 19 191 26991 +40.6%
Property-related Crimes 86 410 95516 +10.5%
Other Serious Crimes 266 495 352277 +32.2%
Total public reported 462 472 610 605 +32.0%
Crime detected as a result of police action 25 093 42121 +67.9%
Total 487 565 652 726 +33.9%

2019 vs 2020 Jul – Sep 2019 Jul – Sep 2020 Change
Contact Crimes 153 650 135 821 -11.6%
Contact-related Crimes 28 042 26 991 -3.7%
Property-related Crimes 117 539 95 516 -18.7%
Other Serious Crimes 407 303 352 277 -13.5%
Total public reported 706 534 610 605 -13.6%
Crime detected as a result of police action 78 779 42 121 -46.5%
Total 785 313 652 726 -16.9%
  • 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

Among the community reported crimes, robberies – be it of cash-in-transit or at residential premises – were some of the only crimes to see an increase over the period. Other crimes that increased include commercial crimes, carjacking, attempted murder – while a single bank robbery was reported.

All other crime categories saw fewer reported crimes, again attributed to the country slowly coming out of lockdown, but there still being restrictions in place.

Notable reductions were seen in burglaries and theft out of vehicles, which usually take place when people are out of the home.

“As we approach the festive season, criminals are trying to make up for the time lost during the ‘crime holiday’ experienced in the first quarter of the financial year. This is demonstrated by the increase in the country’s most feared crimes, which are residential robberies.

“While many citizens are still working from home due to the Nationwide Lockdown, incidents of home invasions have increased by 8.5%. On the other hand, cases of business robberies have declined by the same percentage,” Cele said.

The scramble to ‘catch up’ by criminals is also reflected in increasing Cash in Transit heist figures, he said.

“It is clear armed gangs targeting cash vans, are becoming more desperate and ruthless as the year comes to a close. These criminals are stopping at nothing to carry out their criminal acts, often doing so in public spaces near innocent bystanders.”

The biggest drops were seen in crimes as detected by police – particularly in driving under the influence, and drug-related crimes.

Biggest increase to biggest decrease in crimes Q2 2020/21

Category Jul – Sep 2019 Jul – Sep 2020 Change
Bank Robbery 0 1 +1 case
Robbery of cash in transit 40 64 +60.0%
Truck hijacking 312 411 +31.7%
Robbery at residential premises 5 308 5 760 +8.5%
Commercial crime 21 518 21 978 +2.1%
Attempted murder 4 856 4 941 +1.8%
Carjacking 4 882 4 803 -1.6%
Malicious injury to property 26 985 26 005 -3.6%
Common assault 38 993 36 851 -5.5%
Burglary at non-residential premises 16 892 15 881 -6.0%
Murder 5 446 5 107 -6.2%
Arson 1 057 986 -6.7%
Stock-theft 7 878 7 339 -6.8%
Robbery at non-residential premises 5 394 4 937 -8.5%
Shoplifting 15 192 13 808 -9.1%
Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm 39 807 34 890 -12.4%
Robbery with aggravating circumstances 37 617 32 745 -13.0%
Sexual Offences 13 730 11 423 -16.8%
Theft of motor vehicle and motorcycle 12 235 10 146 -17.1%
All theft not mentioned elsewhere 71 362 58 154 -18.5%
Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition 4 485 3 631 -19.0%
Burglary at residential premises 49 930 39 304 -21.3%
Common robbery 13 201 9 864 -25.3%
Theft out of or from motor vehicle 30 586 22 846 -25.3%
Drug-related crime 45 682 29 094 -36.3%
Sexual offences discovered as result of police action 2 533 1 568 -38.1%
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs 26 079 7 828 -70.0%

Read: South Africa crime stats 2020: everything you need to know

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