Various research reports have shown the devastating effect that the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown regulations have had on large segments of the South African population, in which there have been alarming increases in poverty, unemployment, food insecurity, hunger and domestic violence. These dynamics are likely to transform the current crime crisis into a crime catastrophe in the medium term
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa used his State of the Nation Address on February 7 to outline his relatively new government’s actions and plans. However, the crime prevention strategies he outlined were somewhat stale. Most, especially those related to policing and gender-based violence, have been tried before. They yielded few positive results and there is no evidence to suggest that they’ll work any better now.
South African society is becoming more, not less, violent. This was confirmed by the 2017/18 crime statistics released by the South African Police Service (SAPS) yesterday. Violence affects all South Africans, with the greatest impact on people who are black and poor. Young black men have the highest chance of being murdered. But violence against children and women is at the root of this problem. The effects on individuals are long term – children who grow up in violent households are more likely to use or become victims of violence later in life.
Police, on Tuesday 11 September, reported the killing of women increased 11% in the year to end March 2018, with 20% more boys (under 18 years) murdered compared to the previous 12 months.
Statements by Gauteng’s police head promote xenophobia and could provoke violence against foreigners.
For a country with one of the highest global murder rates, little is publicly known about the murder trends.
The aggregate manner in which the crime data and statistics are presented masks the disproportionate nature of violent crime in South Africa, which for decades has been concentrated in about 20 per cent of police precincts. Most of these high crime precincts are densely populated, infrastructurally marginalised and characterised by elevated levels of poverty. Therefore, in seeking to gauge a more informed analysis of crime a focus on high crime precincts provides a more enlightening touchstone for the state of violent crime in South Africa.
A steady rise in murder and armed robbery shows police are not getting a grip on serious violent crime in South Africa, despite a budget increased by almost 50% since 2011/12 to R87 billion.
In this blog, Lizette Lancaster and Nthato Ntsoko discuss how the soon to be released 2017 SAPS crime statistics will likely paint a worrying but incomplete picture of the crime situation in South Africa.
Crime is not at all evenly distributed in any country or city, so smaller scale data is essential. Crime statistics are public property. Every citizen has a right to access them easily, promptly and in a format that makes them useful to our lives and decisions. We also have a responsibility to read them critically but honestly.