Police minister Bheki Cele has presented the latest crime statistics for South Africa, covering the first quarter of the 2023/24 administrative year, which runs from April to June 2023.
The latest stats show a positive turn for many of South Africa’s more problematic crime categories. Violent crime like murder is tracking lower in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, with 6,228 murders recorded vs 6,424 murders in the previous period.
Sexual offences are also down 2%, while carjacking has also eased, down 6.4% year-on-year.
However, while these crime categories are not as bad as they were in Q1 2022/23, the numbers are still alarmingly high.
6,228 murders over a period of three months is a staggeringly high number, averaging 68 murders a day in the country.
Other violent crimes – such as attempted murder, common assault, and assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm – also tracked higher over the period, leading to the contact crimes category jumping by 4.8%
More positively, the contact-related and property-related crimes categories tracked lower over the quarter, with South Africa seeing a significant drop in robberies at non-residential premises and burglaries at homes.
Crimes detected due to police action have also climbed significantly, indicating a more active and effective police force working to stop crime.
Presenting the stats to parliament on Friday (18 August), Cele said the stats reflect that the police are turning the tide on crime, and the trend should continue.
“(Since the start of the period) we have arrested over 70,000 people, excluding this last weekend,” he said.
The minister said those arrested are the “people that we want” – those with an outstanding warrant of arrest, mostly related to serious crimes like murder, rape and hijacking.
However, he said there is growing concern about the number of foreign nationals in the country illegally linked to these crimes.
These criminals are effectively untraceable, the minister said, as their fingerprints and DNA are not recorded or linked to local databases. He said the police service is improving in this area, and positive trends should continue.
Cele added that the effects of more active policing are already being seen, with the department’s goal of “sanitising the weekend” bearing fruit. He said that the busiest times for crime have now moved from Saturday and Sunday to Monday and Wednesday, although Saturday is still a popular time for criminal activity.
He added that the ultimate goal is to ensure there is no day or time for crime in South Africa.
SA crime stats: Q1 2022/23 vs Q1 2023/24
- Contact crimes include violent crimes like 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 Q1 2023/24
Crime detected as a result of police action