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Living amongst criminals

22 November 2011, 08:10

Usually I’m ranting and raving about the fact that we are the most violent country in the world. Yes, it might get boring talking about how we have more people slaughtered daily in South Africa than the massacre in Norway or how we reach Australia’s annual murder rate in four days, but I feel it is important. Today I want to take a slightly different view at why South Africans live in fear on a daily basis.  Please readers, I'm not a statistician so I'd appreciate someone with more knowledge on the stats to offer input.

Recently, the government released a report on the demographics of South African prisons (which are already overcrowded) as at the end of February this year. The report breaks down the entire prison population into race, gender, offence etc. The purpose of my letter is not to look into the
demographics but the total population (162,162 which includes sentenced and unsentenced groups) so for further information the report can be viewed here.

Next I browsed through the latest SAPS crime statistics report for the year ending 30 April 2010. The major categories listed include and can be viewed here.

1.  Murder – 16,834
2.  Rape – 68,332
3.  Attempted murder – 17,410
4.  Robbery with aggravating circumstances – 113,755
5.  Robbery (residential and commercial)- 328,350
6.  Culpable homicide – 12,272

Other categories include arson, shoplifting, public violence, kidnapping etc but these will be ignored for now. This leaves a total of over 550,000 criminal offences in a single year alone.  Do these numbers represent convictions because the conviction rates for serious crimes in South Africa is less than 10% because if so these dreadfully high numbers will be almost 10 times worse? (Can someone provide an informed answer).   Compare this to the current prison population of 162,162, the numbers don’t add up. So I’ve taken it a step further.

Let’s use the following conservative assumptions:

1. Every murderer murders 2 people before being caught and is sentenced to 25 years in jail.
2. 1 in 10 rapes are reported, each rapist rapes 5 victims before being caught and sentenced to10 years in jail.
3. Each attempted murderer attempts to murder 2 victims before being caught and sentenced to 10 years in jail.
4. Each violent robber commits 5 robberies with aggravated circumstances before being caught in sentenced to 10 years in jail.
5. Ordinary robbers commit 10 robberies before being caught and sentenced to 5 years in jail.
6. Each perpetrator of culpable homicide kills 2 people before being caught and sentenced to 10 years in jail.
7. Crime levels remain constant (SAPS and ANC have declared a decrease since apartheid)
8. Criminals serve out their full sentences.

After doing the maths, conservatively speaking there should be at least 2.1 million criminals in jail today. This means that almost 2 million criminals are out on the streets and this excludes those criminals that have served their full sentences and have been released. This just illustrates the failure by the entire justice system and the will of government to sort out this crisis. We are literally living amongst violent criminals on a daily basis, no wonder we live in fear.

Luckily tonight we can sleep a bit better knowing that Daryl Peense has been convicted of Assault for accidentally spilling his drink NEAR president Zuma.

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