By Jen Thorpe
In September 2010 the government released its latest crime statistics. You access the full page here. The scary truth is that approximately 2 121 887 serious crimes were committed in the 2009/2010 calendar year. Over 30% of these were contact crimes, and over 25% were property related crimes.
So what does that mean for the ordinary citizen? Well, if you look at the stats the number of reported crimes have gone down. This is, in itself a complicated issue, because of the problems with reporting, and can reflect mistrust and lack of faith in the police. On the other hand, it could reflect that crime has gone down and that the SAPS are doing a great job. It’s impossible to tell which, so lets just read more about the stats.
In the 2008/2009 period there were 18148 murders in SA, but in 2009/2010 this had decreased to 16834.
In the 2008/2009 period there were 59232 reported cases of common robbery, but in the 2009/2010 period there were 57537.
In the 2008/2009 period there were 70514 reported incidents of sexual offences, and in 2009/2010 this had decreased to 68332.
Breakdown of crime
30% of all crimes were assault with grevious bodily harm, 29.2% were common assault, 16.8% were aggravated robbery and 10.1% were sexual offences.
Is it enough?
Whilst these are noticeable and significant improvements it is important to ask – is this enough? South Africa remains an extremely violent country. 30% of crimes were assault with grevious bodily harm.
With 68332 reported incidents of sexual offences, that boils down to 187 sexual offences incidents per day. If the suggestions of the 1 in 9 campaign are true, only 1 in 9 incidents of sexual offences are reported because of stigma, fear of retaliation and a lack of faith in the police. This means that potentially there were actually over 6 hundred thousand sexual offences incidents, which translates to 1684 per day, which is over 70 per hour, which means at least one every minute.
As Rumbi Goredema suggested in Fighting Crime with Crime there is a need for consideration of the systemic factors that are causing crime in South Africa. What culture of violence are we sustaining? What type of masculinity leads to one rape every minute?
What can we do to make a change? With 2 million crimes a year it is going to take all of us to work together to come up with creative, positive, and context appropriate solutions to really make a difference.