The most feared crimes in South Africa – and the truth behind the numbers

Stats SA has published the Victim of Crimes Survey for 2018, showing which crimes South Africans are most afraid of falling victim to in the country.

The latest survey looks at private households from all nine provinces in South Africa, and provides information about the dynamics of crime from the perspective of these households and victims of crime.

As part of the survey, households and individuals were asked which crimes they believe are the most common – and which crimes they are most afraid of becoming victims of.

This data, along with the crime statistics released by the SAPS in September 2018, allows for a deeper analysis of the lines between the perceived threat of a crime and the reality of the situation in South Africa.

The data shows that South Africans are fully aware of the realities of crime, with the perception of the most common types of crime aligning with the stats published by the SAPS.

Seven out of 10 survey respondents rightly believe that housebreakings and burglary are the most common crimes – with SAPS data recording over 220,000 cases in 2017/18, this makes it the second most common crime (after other types of theft).

Housebreakings are also the most feared crime in the country, followed by home robbery and robbery outside the home.

A smaller percentage (19.9%) believe murder is the most common crime – ranked 7th overall by perception – but it is the fourth most feared crime in the country.

SAPS data for the most recent year recorded 20,300 murders, making it the 16th most common category of crime in reality. However, South Africa has a global reputation for having one of the highest murder rates in the world, which has fed into public perceptions.

The same can be said of sexual assault, which is the fifth most feared crime, and perceived to be the 9th most common crime in the country – when SAPS data (50,100 reported cases) places it as the 15th most common crime in the country.

Although it is widely accepted that murder and sexual assault are more serious crimes than house break-ins, it is feared more than murder and sexual assault, Stats SA said.

The perception

The fear

The reality

Read: Big increase in hijackings and other crimes targeting businesses in South Africa

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The most feared crimes in South Africa – and the truth behind the numbers