Independent statistics show crime in South Africa at 15-year low

Violent offences have dropped by 40 per cent in the past decade, according to study by international information firm IHS

Police stand guard  in central Cape Town last month. Police minister Nathi Mthethwa said the independently compiled figures had vindicated its own statistics released last month. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Police stand guard in central Cape Town last month. Police minister Nathi Mthethwa said the independently compiled figures had vindicated its own statistics released last month. Photograph: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

Sun, Nov 3, 2013, 22:25

Crime in South Africa is at its lowest level in 15 years, according to statistics released by international information firm IHS, which also show that violent offences have dropped by 40 per cent in the past decade.

The publication of the IHS Index Report by the US-based company is being used by the South African government to vindicate its own recently released figures, which local experts have criticised in relation to their accuracy.

South Africa is known to be one of the most violent countries in the world outside a war zone, and the release of annual crime statistics is usually an emotive event.

The African National Congress-led government is regularly accused of manipulating the figures by opposition parties, who say they need to be released more regularly and in a clearer way to be of better use in the fight against crime on the ground.

Police minister Nathi Mthethwa said the independently compiled figures had vindicated its own statistics released last month.

“Since 1994, we have been making steady progress in the fight against crime. This period has been characterised by growing unity in action against crime, a period focused on improving life conditions for all, especially the poor,” Mr Mthethwa said in a statement.

The police statistics for the 12 months to March 2013 showed a decline in many crimes over the previous period. Bank and cash-in-transit crimes were down substantially and there were decreases in rape, sexual assault, common robbery and common assault.

When it came to the more serious offences like murder, attempted murder and the three categories of robbery – burglary, hijacking and business robbery – figures were on the rise.

However, when looking at the figures over the longer nine-year term, nearly all crimes had steadily fallen.

But the Institute of Security Studies told BusinessDay newspaper the latest statistics failed to take into account more accurate population estimates, and as a result could not be trusted.