18 years of crime – counting the dead

Kevin_Kingby Kevin King

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With the release of the latest crime stats imminent, I’d like to recap what’s happened in the last 18 years in South Africa.


Firstly, it’s interesting to note that the SAPS and the media only report the murder rate but ignore the actual number of victims killed in homicides, the act of killing another human being illegally.  There is a very thin line between murder and culpable homicide but fact is that death is the result.

In the 1994/1995 year, 38,525 homicides were reported by the SAPS.  25,965 murders and 12,560 culpable homicides.  105.55 killed per day.

In total, for the last 18 years including the 2011/2012 year, 597,500 were killed in homicides at a rate of 91 per day.

In the last reported statistics, the SAPS reported 27,397 homicides in the 2011/2012 year, a slight decrease from the previous year and a 29% decrease from the4 1994/1995 year.

The most unexpected discovery I made when analysing the stats was regarding the ratio of culpable homicides to total homicides.  There is a clear, undeniabletrend in the last 18 years.  From 33% in 1994/1995, the ratio increases consistently each year until 2011/2012 where it ends on 43%.  There are three possible reasons for this:

  1. There has been a steady change in the courts/law, every year, for the last 18 years, that has seen a greater percentage of homicides being classified as culpable homicide instead of murder, thus the law is being more lenient.
  2. Criminals themselves have been changing their behaviour, every year, for the last 18 years, in a manner that has seen them committing more unintentional homicides.
  3. Homicides are being incorrectly classified as culpable homicides in order to make the murder rate look rosier, because as mentioned, the murder rate is the main indicator of the crime situation in South Africa and the only figure that is reported, so there is motive to manipulate this figure.

Serious contact crimes

5,216,629 reported victims of serious contact crimes in the 18 years from 1994/1995 to 2011/2012.  That comprises:

  1. 597,900 victims of homicide who are now dead
  2. 443,551 victims of attempted murder
  3. 4,175,178 victims of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm

There is a thin line between category 2 and 3 but fact remains, there were 794 cases per day where someone’s life was in serious danger.

Sexual assault

Always a horrific stat, 1,111,425 reported cases of sexual offences took place in the 18 years from 1994/1995 to 2011/2012.  As mentioned in my previous articles, cases of sexual assault are severely under-reported in South Africa.  So here is a look at estimates of actual sexual assaults in the last 18 years based on the reported cases by the SAPS:

  1. Conservative estimate (1 in 5 reported) – 5,557,125 (846 per day)
  2. Moderate estimate (1 in 10 reported) – 11,114,250 (1,692 per day)
  3. Aggressive estimate (1 in 20 reported) – 22,228,500 (3,383 per day)

Most surveys and experts indicate that between 1 in 10 and 1 in 20 cases of sexual assault are reported.

Arrests made, where do the criminals go?

According to NathiMthethwa, over 800,000 arrests were made in the 2012/2013 year for “serious crimes” and 352,513 of these were convicted, I’m however surprised that Nathi never expected anyone to do the maths…

Earlier this year our prison population stood at 156,000 and that was at 130% over capacity.  So Nathi, where do these serious criminals go?  352,513 arrested and convicted in only ONE year but our prisons were over capacity before these convictions?  Assuming all these serious criminals stay behind bars for 2 years, where will next year’s 350,000 serious criminals go?  Because I promise you now, at the end of the 2013/2014 year there will not be more than 160,000 prisoners in jail, so how can there be 352,513 arrested, convicted and jailed for serious crimes, unless most of these never see a day behind bars?  Taking your stats Nathi, there should be over 2 million criminals in jail for serious offences…

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