Stats reveal bleak crime picture

Pretoria - A bleak picture emerged on Thursday from the latest figures on serious crime such as murder, burglary, aggravated robbery, and hijackings.

One expert described the 2012/13 crime statistics, released by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa in Pretoria, as "the worst figures seen in 10 years".

Mthethwa said the number of murders increased by 0.6% in the past financial year. However, it was down 16.6% over the past four years, and 27.2% over the past nine years.

There was also a 6.5% increase in attempted murder in the year under review. This was in contrast to the 16.8% decline over the past four years and the 51.7% decline over the past nine years.

The number of aggravated robberies increased by 1.2% over the past financial year, Mthethwa said.

However, there were still 29.7% fewer of these crimes than nine years ago and 18.7% less than four years ago.

Residential burglaries increased by 3.3% in the past financial year, and non-residential burglaries by 1.7% over the same period.

In the 2012/13 financial year:

- theft out of motor vehicles increased by 3.6%;

- commercial crimes increased by 0.6%;

- car hijacking increased by 5.4%;

- robbery at residential premises increased by 3.6%;

- truck hijacking increased by 14.9%;

- drug-related crime increased by 13.5%; and

- cases of drunk driving, or driving under the influence of drugs, increased by 1.5%.

Raw figures showed that the number of aggravated robberies increased from 101 203 in 2011/12 to 105 888 in the past financial year.

Crime ‘unacceptably high’

Following Mthethwa’s announcement, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said the increase in violent crime showed government's approach to crime was not working.

"After a long period of decreases in serious and violent crime, these are the worst figures we have seen in 10 years," ISS analyst Gareth Newham said.

"Violence remains unacceptably high and should be treated as a serious crisis, which stands in the way of South Africa's social and economic development."

Newham said the ISS was concerned by the murder rate, since it declined over the last decade, only to rise again in the last financial year.

"It has grown by 650 cases. This is almost two additional murders per day on average. We need more data on why it has gone up," he said in a telephonic conference.

He said most car and truck hijackings were linked to crime syndicates.

"This increase suggests weakness in crime intelligence."

Newham said the increase in aggravated robbery indicated that police were not in control of the situation.

However, national police commissioner Riah Phiyega said crime in South Africa was under control.

"The story of [the SA Police Service] SAPS is a story of assurance and confidence. When I look at the crime situation over a period of nine years, you all see that there is a general decline," she said.

"We expect this declining trend to continue in the majority of our serious crimes categories. There is no doubt in my mind that the crime situation is under control."

Presenting the crime statistics, Mthethwa said shoplifting decreased by 3.9% over the same period.

There were also decreases in robberies at non-residential premises, by 0.6%, in cash-in-transit robberies, by 20.3%, and bank robberies, by 80%.

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