Surge in hijackings in South Africa

Statistics South Africa has published its annual Victim’s of Crime Survey, detailing where, and how South Africans are being targeted by criminals in the country.

The data, which grouped statistics from April 2016 – March 2017, showed a marginal decline of crime compared to previous years – both in terms of the proportion of households that were victimised and the proportion of individuals (16 years and older) that were victimised.

The Western Cape maintained the top position of having the highest proportion of households victimised by crime while Limpopo remained the province least affected by crime.

Over 1,468,278 crime incidents were experienced by 1,153,984 households in 2016/17, which equates to just over 7% of all households in the country.

Analysis of trends of individual crime types also showed a decline in the proportion of households (or individuals) that were victimised with the exception of theft out of motor vehicle, hijacking, sexual offence and consumer fraud.

However, the number of incidents of crime per household, as measured by the Repeat Victimisation Index (RVI), has not followed the same pattern; in fact, for most types of crime this indicator has been increasing.

Thus, fewer households are victimised but more often. This may explain the popular perception that crime is on the increase, Stats SA said.

Crime break down

More than half of the crime-affected households in South Africa experienced housebreaking/burglary (52.9%), followed by theft of livestock, poultry and other animals owned by the household (11.3%), as well as home robbery (10%).

It is estimated that a total of 776,933 housebreaking incidents were committed in 2016/17 affecting a total of 647,340 households.

Buffalo City in the Eastern Cape tops the proportion of households victimised through housebreaking at 6.9%, while electronic equipment was the most common (54%) item stolen during housebreaking.


Hijacking of motor vehicles increased sharply by 93%, StatsSA said, with as many as 53,000 hijacking victims in the country during the reported period from April 2016 to March 2017.

Stats SA said: “Hijacking of motor vehicles is a type of crime committed against an individual while driving their own vehicles or vehicles belonging to another person or institution. The question of ownership was not relevant when respondents were asked whether they had experienced incidents of hijacking during the past twelve months.”

The stats body cautioned that hijackings statistics should be eyed cautiously, due to the number of respondents that experienced crime in this category. Official SAPS data for 2016 showed that there were 14,602 reported hijackings.

Because ownership of the vehicle was not considered in the survey, many respondents who said they experienced the crime may have been passengers in the vehicle at the time.

According to the report, a greater percentage of males reported experiencing a hijacking in 2016/17 compared to females, while victims of hijacking are also typically older than other victims of crime.

The report found specifically that motorists between the ages of 40 and 50 were more likely to be the victims of hijacking, but it did not provide specific information as to why this age group in particular was at risk.

In July this year, the Institute of Security Studies stated that there had been a major increase in hijacking over the past year.

Read: Massive increase in hijackings in South Africa

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Surge in hijackings in South Africa