Victims of crime in South Africa are apathetic to report their ordeals to police, the 2018/19 Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey (Victims of Crime) report have suggested.
The report, which was released by Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke on Thursday, painted a worrying picture of how victims were not reporting crimes such as housebreaking, home robbery and deliberate damage of property and arson. The survey provides statistics for two of the trio crimes — vehicle hijacking and home robbery. Business robbery is excluded.
During the financial year under review, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said there were 1.3 million incidents of housebreaking (5.8% of South African households). Of these, only 467 599 (48%) were reported to the police.
In the same year, the report reveals that there were 260 000 incidents of home robberies. However, only 60% of these were reported to the police. According to the report, there were 70 000 (50%) incidents of deliberate damage of property and arson.
The picture was worse in the individual experience of crime category. The survey found that there were 1.2 million incidences of theft of personal property. Of these, only 324 580 (32%) were reported to the police. The survey recorded 580 000 street robberies and 500 000 cases of assault during the financial year. Of these, only 35% and 50% respectively were reported to the police, Maluleke said.
The national statistics agency said participants of the survey gave various reasons for not taking protection measures against crime.
“About 27% of the people did not take any measures against crime because they felt that there is nothing they can do, 22% thought crime-fighting was the work of the police, 19% did not know what to do, 17% took no action because of lack of money, 10% felt that their action would not make any difference, and 4% were still thinking about the action they would take,” the report states.
“Between 2017/18 and 2018/19, hijacking of motor vehicles increased and home robbery decreased, but these changes were not statistically significant. However, street robbery increased significantly,” the report notes.
The report also reveals that sexual crimes continue to prove a headache in the country. Reflecting the South African Police Service figures, Stats SA revealed that there 52 420 sexual offences crime were reported during 2018/19.
During the 2018/19 financial year, Stats SA estimated that there were 1.3 million incidences of housebreaking, affecting 969 567 households in South Africa.
“The number of affected households represents 5.8% of all households in the country. About 48% of households that experienced housebreaking reported it to the police. The total number of households that reported housebreaking to the police is estimated to be 467 599… This estimate is significantly greater than the number of burglaries at residential premises reported by the South African Police Service [220 865],” said Maluleke in the report.
Although Gauteng had the most amount of housebreakings (336 358), the Northern Cape has the highest percentage, with 7.39% (24 730) of the province’s homes falling victim to the crime. The Free State had the lowest percentage with 3.75% (34 800 homes).
The report said about 83% of the population felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhood during the day, while 35% felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhood during the night. Both figures increased from 2017/18. Males, in general, felt safer walking alone in their neighbourhood than females.