New data shows shocking rise in violent crime in South Africa

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has presented the country’s latest crime statistics, covering the fourth quarter of the 2021/22 financial year, January to March 2022.

Total reported crimes during the period increased significantly, both as a result of reported crimes, and a jump in the number of crimes detected through police activity.

Contact crimes, including assault and sexual offences, saw a jump of 15%, with violent crimes like murder, assault and sexual offences also recording double-digit growth.

According to the SAPS, 6,083 people were murdered over the quarter (up 22%) – the equivalent of 68 people a day – which is the highest number recorded over this period in the last five years.

Attempted murders were up 25%, with the SAPS tracking 5,717 cases.

Across most violent crime categories, the stats for the quarter are the worst they have been for the same period over the last five years.

Category 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21 2021/22
Murder 4 668 4 896 4 589 4 976 6 083
Attempted murder 4 243 4 647 X4 216 4 582 5 717
Assault (GBH) 41 078 43 113 40 168 36 417 42 992
Common assault 39 314 42 262 42 866 38 889 45 746
Rape 9 695 10 792 9 905 9 518 10 818

Contact-related crimes and other serious crimes were both up in the quarter, with a notable increase in carjackings (+19.7%), truck hijacking (+31.4%), and assault (+18%).

Notably, of the 23 community reported crimes tracked by the SAPS, only four saw a decline compared to a year ago. Meanwhile, 14 other crime categories saw numbers jump by more than 10%, year on year.

On a more positive note, the stats also show increased police activity, with crimes detected as a result of police action also rising over the quarter.

The number of cases of driving under the influence spiked by almost 40%, while drug-related crimes detected was up 18%.

Provincially, Gauteng recorded 104,999 cases opened by the community. This is followed by the Western Cape with 72,448 cases, and KwaZulu-Natal with 60,108 cases.

In previous quarterly reports, the SAPS compared the 2021/22 stats to those in 2019, saying that the 2020/21 period was not comparable because of the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

Since the third quarter, 2019 comparisons have been dropped and figures have returned to regular year-on-year analysis.


SA crime stats: Q4 2020/21 vs Q4 2021/22

2020 vs 2021 Jan-Mar 2021 Jan-Mar 2022 Change
Contact Crimes 137 314 157 907 +15.0%
Contact-related Crimes 25 582 29 559 +15.5%
Property-related Crimes 91 223 91 278 +0.1%
Other Serious Crimes 93 801 101 643 +8.4%
Total public reported 347 920 380 387 +9.3%
Crime detected as a result of police action 50 034 60 151 +20.2%
Total 397 954 440 538 +10.7
  • 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 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 roadblocks and raids. This category covers the illegal possession of firearms, DUI or driving under the influence (of drugs or alcohol), and the use, possession or trade of illegal drugs.

Biggest increases in crime categories for 4Q21

Category Jan-Mar 2021 Jan-Mar 2022 Change
Bank robbery 1 5 +4 cases
Truck hijacking 354 465 +31.4%
Robbery of cash in transit 42 53 +26.2%
Attempted murder 4 582 5 717 +24.8%
Arson 732 910 +24.3%
Murder 4 976 6 083 +22.2%
Carjacking 4 513 5 402 +19.7%
Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm 36 417 42 992 +18.1%
Common assault 38 889 45 746 +17.6%
Malicious damage to property 24 850 28 649 +15.3%
Sexual Offences 12 133 13 799 +13.7%
Common robbery 9 549 10 787 +13.0%
Commercial crime 22 558 25 431 +12.7%
All theft not mentioned elsewhere 59 646 65 920 +10.5%
Robbery with aggravating circumstances 30 768 32 783 +6.5%
Stock-theft 6 089 6 243 +2.5%
Theft out of or from motor vehicle 20 111 20 457 +1.7%
Theft of motor vehicle and motorcycle 9 240 9 377 +1.5%
Burglary at residential premises 40 568 40 960 +1.0%
Robbery at residential premises 5 288 5 267 -0.4%
Robbery at non-residential premises 4 872 4 700 -3.5%
Burglary at non-residential premises 15 215 14 241 -6.4%
Shoplifting 11 597 10 292 -11.3%

Crime detected as a result of police action

Category Jan-Mar 2021 Jan-Mar 2022 Change
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs 8 583 11 992 39.7%
Drug-related crime 35 932 42 309 17.7%
Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition 3 184 3 542 11.2%
Sexual offences discovered as result of police action 2 335 2 308 -1.2%

Read: South Africa’s property industry says these types of crimes are on the rise

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New data shows shocking rise in violent crime in South Africa