The latest crime statistics that covered the first quarter were released by the South African Police Service (SAPS), covering the 2022/23 financial year. The crime statistics indicate that while some crime categories significantly decreased, others continue to increase.
Police minister Bheki Cele presented the official crime statistics, and he noted that the crime stats for the first quarter, between April to June 2022, were compared to the same period in 2021. During this period, the country was still in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic. When presenting the crime statistics, the minister highlighted the SAPS’s role in reducing crimes in critical categories such as common assault and assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm and sexual offences.
In the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year, the crime statistics indicated a decrease in sexual offences, including rape, sexual offences, contact sexual offences and attempted sexual offences. The police minister also indicated that the SAPS would continue prioritising gender-based violence-related crimes.
A total of 9 516 rape cases were opened with the SAPS during the first quarter, nearly 500 fewer rape cases were reported in comparison to the same period the previous year. Rape cases saw a decline in all provinces, except the Northern Cape and North West, as they were the only provinces that reported increases in this crime category.
According to the police minister, 3 780 rape cases had occurred in the homes of either the perpetrator or the victim. One thousand five hundred forty-six people had been raped in public spaces such as parks, streets and beaches, while 3 780 rapes occurred in public transportation like taxis, buses and trains. Between April and June 2022/23, 286 rapists had been convicted through investigative work conducted by the SAPS. Out of the 286 rape convictions, 46 rapists were sentenced to life behind bars.
In most instances, most rapes occur behind closed doors, and the police are confident that through the FCS detective unit, they will be able to prevent more rape cases from occurring, hence the decrease that was seen in rape cases during this reporting period.
Though there have been some successes in preventing some crimes, the number of murders in the country is still quite concerning. The country’s murder rate increased by 11.5% during the first quarter compared to the same period in 2021. Attempted murder also saw an increase as it rose by 8.4% and carjacking rose by 14%.
The leading causes of murders were misunderstandings, arguments, revenge, retaliation and vigilantism. The number of murders recorded in South Africa remains worrisome as 6 424 people were killed during this country’s first quarter of the 2022/2023 financial year. The figure indicates an increase of 664 more people murdered in comparison to the same period last year. During the same period, the government placed the country under lockdown levels one and two. The Mthatha station in the Eastern Cape and the Umlazi, Plessislaer police stations in KwaZulu-Natal recorded the highest number of murder cases in the first quarter, accounting for 221 cases.
The attempted murder of women was still high during this first quarter. From April to June, 243 children and 855 women were killed. The SAPS investigated 1 400 attempted murder dockets of children and women. Violent crimes against children and women were alarmingly high and occurred at unacceptable levels.
According to the crime statistics, 13 crime categories are worse yearly, while ten categories have improved. The data also indicated that increased police activity resulted in more crimes being detected due to police action. Out of all 13 crimes that continue to get worse each year, five are at their worst levels, as seen in the first quarter. These crimes include carjacking, murder, attempted murder, commercial crime, and robbery at residential premises. The other significant increases in crime include carjacking, which went up by 14%, and cash-in-transit heists also saw a substantial increase as they went up over 30%. Carjacking rose by 14% from 5 146 cases in the previous year to 5 866 cases this quarter. Recorded murder cases rose by 11.1%, while attempted murder rose by 8.4%. A total of 25 250 crimes were recorded, an increase of 5.1% and robbery at residential premises rose by 0.4%.
Liquor is seen to be one of the most significant contributors to crime. In the first quarter, 227 people were killed in places of entertainment such as pubs, taverns and bars, while alcohol was involved in 1 212 rape cases. The police minister said the constant opening of liquor outlets in communities could have contributed to the increase in contact crimes.
Fighting crime came at a cost for the members of the SAPS in the country, as 18 police officers were killed during the first quarter. Firearms were three times more likely to be used as the weapon of choice in the reported murders, as 2 766 people had been shot to death. In KwaZulu-Natal, 912 of the murders were a result of firearms. The Gauteng province had 697 deaths which had been attributed to guns. In the Western Cape Province, 498 people died from gunshot wounds.