Housebreaking incidents in SA top the million mark

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Victims of crime in South Africa are apathetic to report to police, the 2018/19 Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey (Victims of Crime) report suggests.

The report, released by Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke this week, paints a worrying picture of victims were not reporting crimes such as housebreaking, home robbery and deliberate damage of property and arson. The survey provides statistics for two of the trio crimes — vehicle hijacking and home robbery. Business robbery is excluded.

During the period under review, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said there were 1,3 million incidents of housebreaking (5.8% of South African households). Of these, only 467 599 (48%) were reported to police.

In the same year, the report show there were 260 000 incidents of home robbery. Sixty percent were reported to police. According to the report there were 70 000 incidents of deliberate damage to property and arson.

The picture was worse in the individual experience of crime category. The survey found there were 1.2 million incidents of theft of personal property. Of these, 324 580 (32%) were reported to police. The survey recorded 580 000 street robberies and 500 000 cases of assault during the financial year. Of these, only 35% and 50% respectively were reported, Maluleke said.

The national statistics agency said participants in the survey gave various reasons for not taking protection measures against crime.

“About 27% of people did not take any measures against crime because they feel there is nothing they can do, 22% thought crime fighting was the work of police, 19% did not know what to do, 17% took no action because of lack of money, 10% felt their actions would not make any difference and four percent were thinking about taking action,” the report states.

“Between 2017/18 and 2018/19, hijacking of motor vehicles increased and home robbery decreased. These changes were not statistically significant. Street robbery increased significantly,” the report noted.

The report further reveals sexual crimes continue to be a headache. Reflecting SA Police Service figures, Stats SA revealed 52 420 sexual offences crime were reported during 2018/19.

During 2018/19 financial year, Stats SA estimated here were 1.3 million incidents of housebreaking, affecting 969 567 households.

“The number of affected households represents 5.8% of all households in the country. About 48% of households that experienced housebreaking reported it to police. The total number of households that reported housebreaking to police is estimated to be 467 599. This is significantly more than the number of burglaries at residential premises reported by SASPS (220 865),” said Maluleke in the report.

Although Gauteng had most housebreakings (336 358), Northern Cape had the highest percentage, with 7.39% (24 730) of the province’s homes falling victim to the crime. Free State had the lowest percentage with 3.75% (34 800 homes).

The report said about 83% of the population felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods during the day, while 35% felt safe walking alone in their neighbourhoods at night. Both figures increased from 2017/18. Males in general felt safer walking alone than females.