What you need to know about South Africa’s latest crime stats

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

Presenting the latest data, police minister Bheki Cele said that the numbers represent the crimes committed between level 1 and adjusted level 3 lockdown, which came into effect on 15 December.

He said that the statistics have exposed some of the gaps that exist in certain policing categories, as well as some of the policing shortcomings experienced in certain provinces.

“The national crime statistics from October to December 2020 do not paint a good picture, and hence force us as the SAPS to dig deep and put the shoulder to the wheel.”

One of the biggest points of concern is an increase in murders, Cele said, with stats showing a 6.6% rise over the reporting period.

This means 389 more people were killed compared to the corresponding period in the previous financial year.

Mpumalanga province recorded the highest increase (13.7%) when compared to the corresponding period in the previous financial year.

Limpopo, North West and Northern Cape provinces recorded a decline in murder cases, of which 193 cases involved domestic violence.

The top four causative factors of these deaths include arguments, robberies at a household and businesses, mob justice incidents and gang-related killings, Cele said.

A total of 2,481 people were murdered in public areas, namely in the street, in an open field or parking areas. Murders were also likely to occur at the home of the victim or perpetrator, and at liquor outlets.

SA crime stats: Q2 2020 vs Q3 2020

Q2 vs Q3 Jul – Sep 2020 Oct – Dec 2020 Change
Contact Crimes 135 821 171 764 +26.5%
Contact-related Crimes 26 991 30 989 +14.8%
Property-related Crimes 95 516 99 034 +3.7%
Other Serious Crimes 93 949 97 931 +4.2%
Total public reported 352 277 399 718 +13.5%
Crime detected as a result of police action 42 121 59 800 +42.0%
Total 394 398 459 518 +16.5%

SA crime stats: Q3 2019 vs Q3 2020

2019 vs 2020 Oct – Dec 2019 Oct – Dec 2020 Change
Contact Crimes 174 157 171 764 -1.4%
Contact-related Crimes 30 597 30 989 +1.3%
Property-related Crimes 117 583 99 034 -15.8%
Other Serious Crimes 107 767 97 931 -9.1%
Total public reported 430 104 399 718 -7.1%
Crime detected as a result of police action 75 160 59 800 -20.4%
Total 505 264 459 518 -9.1%
  • 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

Other key statistics include:

  • A 5% increase was recorded for sexual offences detected as a result of police action. 12,218 people were raped between October and December last year – an increase of 181 cases, amounting to a 1.5% increase compared to the previous reporting period;
  • Inanda in the Eastern Cape and Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape are the areas where most rapes where recorded;
  • 18 incidents of murder occurred on farms and smallholdings.
  • All property related crime decreased by 15.8% – this includes the theft of livestock, burglary and vehicles;
  • 50,124 cases of assault were opened over the three-month period. Cele said this was largely driven by alcohol abuse;
  • Aggravated robberies such as carjacking increased by 7%. A notable increase was reported in the hijacking of trucks, delivery drivers and couriers. There was also a 66% increase in cash-in-transit van hijackings;
  • Residential robberies increased, while business robberies decreased compared to the same period last year;

Biggest increase to biggest decrease in crimes Q3 2020/21

Category Oct – Dec 2019 Oct – Dec 2020 Change
Robbery of cash in transit 39 65 +66.7%
Truck hijacking 325 436 +34.2%
Attempted murder 5 014 5 452 +8.7%
Commercial crime 21 725 23 428 +7.8%
Carjacking 4 462 4 794 +7.4%
Murder 5 908 6 297 +6.6%
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs 2 515 2 642 +5.0%
Sexual offences 15 325 15 595 +1.8%
Malicious injury to property 29 598 30 032 +1.5%
Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm 49 428 50 124 +1.4%
Robbery at residential premises 5 704 5 781 +1.3%
Common assault 47 599 47 875 +0.6%
Arson 999 957 -4.2%
Robbery at non-residential premises 5 426 5 052 -6.9%
Stock-theft 8 437 7 854 -6.9%
Robbery with aggravating circumstances 37 352 34 599 -7.4%
Burglary at non-residential premises 17 179 15 550 -9.5%
Drug-related crime 41 520 37 546 -9.6%
Common robbery 13 351 11 822 -11.5%
All theft not mentioned elsewhere 71 509 62 195 -13.0%
Theft of motor vehicle and motorcycle 11 772 10 099 -14.2%
Shoplifting 14 533 12 308 -15.3%
Burglary at residential premises 51 737 42 834 -17.2%
Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition 4 114 3 353 -18.5%
Theft out of or from motor vehicle 28 458 22 697 -20.2%
Sexual offences discovered as result of police action 27 011 16 259 -39.8%
Bank robbery 0 0

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

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What you need to know about South Africa’s latest crime stats