The 2012/13 national crime statistics - Nathi Mthethwa

Police minister says there's been a decrease in contact crime over past year, but residential robberies are up

Remarks by the Minister of Police at the release of the SAPS 2012/2013 National Crime Statistics, September 19 2013

Deputy Minister of Police, Ms MM Sotyu;
All MECs responsible for policing present;
National Commissioner of Police, General MV Phiyega;
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Ms A Van Wyk;
All SAPS Lieutenant Generals, Senior Officers and Staff present;
Civilian Secretary for Police, Ms J Irish-Qhobosheane;
CEO of Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority, Mr M Chauke;
Acting Executive Director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, Ms K Mbeki;
Representatives from Statistics South Africa, CPFs, Business, Policing Unions;
Representatives from Research and Academic Institutions, Civic Organizations present;
Distinguished Guests;
Members of the Media;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

The current administration came into power having identified 5 key priorities for its current term. Amongst the 5 priorities, is the fight against crime and corruption. The South African Police Service (SAPS) is the lead agent in the realization of the reduction of crime, in whatever form it manifests itself.

Over the past 19 years, after centuries of colonialism and apartheid, a new era has dawned for South Africa. Contrary to what some skeptics may affirm, the journey we have traversed thus far gives us confidence that we shall reach our goal of a society that is free from crime, a society that attracts investments and a society that cares.

The duty we are undertaking this morning, of objectively accounting before the nation on the progress in crime prevention and reduction, depicts the reality that our interventions are yielding the desired effect around tackling crime, albeit there is still more that needs to be done. This is despite the fact that our population figures have been on the increase.

The release of the SAPS national crime statistics for the period 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013 should be understood from this accountability and reflection perspectives. 

The South African policing environmental analysis

Our democratic government has invested enormously in the policing environment, we currently have a total personnel strength of 197 946 with a comparative police vs. population ratio of 1:336.

We have aadequate vehicles (51 713 vehicles) with a vehicle vs. personnel ratio of 1:3.83 and in South Africa there are 1 135 police stationsserving as fixed police-community contact points for service delivery.

Government initiatives and the criminal justice system to fight crime are plausible. Over the past 9 years (2004/5 to 2012/13) crime continues to decline against the increase in population figures.

There are specific crimes that continue to persist over the same period. The escalating number of public unrest also draws local members conducting basic policing to support public policing and strains resources.

Success in public order policing is further enhanced by continuously restoring and sustaining stability in the country. We however, still recognise that more fresh and dedicated resources are required to capacitate Public Order Police to meet these challenges. The murders of police continue to erode their capacity to fight crime.

The rural community's access to police services requires creative rural policing partnerships, initiatives and accessibility models. Current initiatives include the rollout of Provincial Crime Prevention Strategies and Mine Crime Combating Forums. 

We also have strategic partnerships with the banking sector (SABRIC), business (Business against Crime), CrimeLine and LeadSA who have contributed immensely to our collective crime prevention and crime reduction programmes. 

Crime ratio is an internationally accepted depiction of crime as raw figures may skew the true reflection on performance of those types of crime that directly affect the population, particularly contact crime. This is further corroborated by the fact that the opportunity for these crimes is also tantamount to the population dynamics. 

We are aware that certain crime does not have to utilise the entire population ratios hence the provisioning of both raw figures and ratios for all serious crime to allow for ease of reference or utilisation for any person or entity wishing to conduct further analysis on each crime. A comprehensive and detailed breakdown of the crime statistics will be available on

Fellow South Africans,

  • During the 2011/12 financial year there were 777 140 serious crime arrests effected and 806 298 in 2012/13.
  • There were 307 580 convictions in 2011/12 and 352 513 convictions for all serious crimes during 2012/13.
  • 609 suspects were sentenced to 826 life sentences. Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) accounts for 499 of these life sentences.
  • 1 586 persons were sentenced to a combined total of 2006 years imprisonment for serious crimes.

Reported crime figures pertaining to crimes against women and children indicate:

  • In 2009/10 there were 197 877 crimes committed against women in comparison to 175 880 in 2012/13, a decrease of 11.1%.
  • In 2009/10 there were 56 539 crimes committed against children in comparison to 49 550 in 2012/13, a decrease of 12.4%.
  • Police also recovered 51 730 vehicles in 2012/13.
  • There were 89 clandestine laboratories detected and dismantled over the past 3 years (32 in 2010/11, 16 in 2011/12, and 41 in2012/13).
  • 1 096 694, 944lt liquor was confiscated and 92 929 identified illegal liquor premises were closed down during 2011/12 compared to 1 824 865, 82lt confiscated and 74 547 premises closed in 2012/13. 

We still experience a high prevalence of illegal firearms however the following successes were noted during the financial year (2012/13) under review:

  • Confiscations: 25 615 firearms in 2011/12 compared to 20 145 in 2012/13.
  • Voluntary surrender: 4 876 firearms in 2011/12 compared to 4 936 in 2012/13.
  • Destructions: 119 810 firearms destructed in 2011/12 compared to 56 051 in 2012/13.

Longitudinally, the following broad categories of crime have constantly indicated varying proportions of decrease when one considers the 9-5-4-1 approach:

Decrease in Contact Crimes (crimes against the person)

  • Contact Crime has reduced by 38.2% over 9 years (2004/5-2012/13); 16.0% during the past 4 years (2009/10-2012/13) and 4.2% during the past financial year (2012/13).
  • Contact-related crime has reduced by 32.4% over 9 years; 16.1% during the past 4 years and 4.3% during the past financial year (2012/13).
  • Property-related crime has reduced by 24.8% over 9 years; although it has reduced by 1.4% during the past 4 years, it has slightly increased by 1.7% during the past financial year (2012/13).
  • Other serious crimes have reduced by 36.5% over 9 years; 11.4% during the past 4 years and decreased by 5.3% during the past financial year (2012/13).

The following Contact Crimes have individually displayed a downward trend:

Decrease in Sexual Offences

Total Sexual Offences emanate from the expanded legal definition in terms of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007 (Act 32 of 2007), as implemented on 15 December 2007.

These crimes have reduced by 10.9% over 9 years (2004/5-2012/13); 12.3% during the past 4 years (2009/10-2012/13). We are encouraged to see a 0.4% decrease during the past financial year (2012/13).

Decrease in Rape

As a sub-category of this crime, Rape (including Compelled Rape, Acts of consensual sexual penetration with certain children (12>16 years)has decreased by 3.3% during the past 4 years. 

We have witnessed a 0.4% decrease in Rape during the past financial year (2012/13).

Nonetheless, we want to reiterate the point that we are still unhappy and concerned about the levels of rape in the country. Protection of communities is now central to our strategies that are aimed at reducing incidences of gender-based violence.

A victim-oriented police service is thus an important part of the overall criminal justice response to crimes against vulnerable groups in society. Two years ago, we took a conscious decision to re-introduce the Family Violence Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units.

Based on capacity building and investment in the environment, remarkable increases in life sentences continue to be experienced. Since the re-establishment of the FCS units there were a combined 36 225 years imprisonments. 

Decrease in Sexual Assault

Another sub-category of this crime, Sexual Assault which has been on the increase over the past 3 years (2009/10 - 2011/12) that is 13.8%, 14.5% and 14.6% respectively. For the financial year under review, sexual assault decreased by 6.2%.

Our crime analysis and supported by independent analysts, point out that 80% of such crimes happen amongst acquaintances; at times amongst close family members. What this means is that we are faced with a societal challenge which requires a societal response.

Conviction of perpetrators has a deterrent impact on crime, through quick and effective arrests. The recent announcement on specialised courts by the Ministry of Justice will help to bring impetus to the finalisation of these cases. We also believe that continued awareness campaigns with other role-players within government and NGOs, will enhance our approach and contribute to reduction of such crimes.

Decrease in Assault with intent to inflict Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH)

Assault GBH reduced by 36.6% over 9 years; 15.0% during the past 4 years. We have witnessed a 6.6% decrease during the past financial year (2012/13).

Decrease in Common Assault

Common assault reduced by 45.4% over 9 years; 16.5% during the past 4 years; and 7.9% during the past financial year (2012/13).

Immediate arrests, zero tolerance on withdrawals of these cases by the SAPS and the continued closing of identified illegal liquor outlets has contributed to the reduction of this crime.

Decrease in Common Robbery

Common robbery reduced by 50.3% over 9 years; 15.9% during the past 4 years; and 2.2% during the past financial year (2012/13).

The role of the community in supplying the necessary information and the patrols of the streets has drastically reduced possibilities of this crime. This is corroborated by swift arrests that have been effected.

Decrease in Shoplifting

Shoplifting reduced by 12.0% over 9 years; 17.8% during the past 4 years. We have now seen a 3.9% decrease during the past financial year (2012/13).

We are engaging in partnership policing and strategic relations with the retail sector and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa to cooperatively design strategies and interventions aimed at reducing this crime that continues to silently impact on the economy and job creation in high proportions.

Some of the notable interventions have included sharing of intelligence and statistical information, engaging mall managers on security issues. In addition, to reduce counterfeit goods, initiatives such as bar-coding are now being targeted.

Decrease in Robbery at Non-Residential Premises

Robbery at Non-Residential Premises - which shows a constant increase of 296.2% over 9 years, and the past 4 years (that is, 9.4%) but has reduced by 0.6% during the past financial year. 

Decrease in Robbery of Cash-In-Transit

Robbery of Cash-In-Transit has remarkably reduced by 24.5% over 9 years; 62.4% during the past 4 years. We are encouraged to see a further20.3% decrease during the past financial year (2012/13).

Decrease in Bank Robbery

Bank robbery remarkably reduced by 88.7% over 9 years; 93.1% during the past 4 years and we are pleased with another significant decrease of 80.0% during the past financial year (2012/13).

This can be attributed to:

  • Sharing of intelligence with the banking industry.
  • Sharing of corroborating statistics.
  • Dedicated prosecutors.
  • Quality detectives operating in the organised crime space.
  • Swift arrest of most kingpins and keeping them in custody.
  • Unfortunate fatalities of perpetrators in confrontation with the police.

Decrease in ATM Bombings

During the 2011/12 financial year, we witnessed a 34,6% decrease in ATM bombings; from 399 cases to a reduction of 261 cases.

For the year under review we have seen an 18% decrease in ATM bombings; from 261 cases down to 214 cases.

Needless to say, lessons on the impact which strategic and structured partnerships such as South African Banking Risk Information Centreexert on crime and have led to such decreases. Police alone would not have been able to break the backbones of these crimes over the past few years.

Decrease in Arson

Arson has reduced by 38.9% over 9 years; 17.7% during the past 4 years; and has decreased by 8.7% during the past financial year (2012/13). 

Advancement in technology on individual dwellings, the improvement of the infrastructure to reduce informal housing as well as electricity rollouts have also assisted in reducing this crime.

Decrease in Malicious Damage to Property

Malicious damage to property has reduced by 32.1% over 9 years; 16.0% during the past 4 years. We have witnessed a 4.1% decrease during the past financial year (2012/13).

It should be stated that the escalating violent incidences of public disorder have a bearing on the performance these crimes.

Decrease in Theft of Motor Vehicles and Motor Cycles

Theft of motor vehicles & motor cycles has reduced by 41.2% over 9 years; 28.4% during the past 4 years. We have witnessed a 4.4%decrease during the past financial year (2012/13).

The advanced technologies in vehicle security and police recoveries have contributed to the reduction in this crime.

Decrease in Stock Theft

Our rural safety plan addresses vulnerable sectors of rural communities including, women, children, elderly, disabled and even immigrants. We do not prioritize these crimes based on racial profiling but treat these cases are prioritized equally. 

Stock theft has also reduced by 35.7% over 9 years; 7.3% during the past 4 years; and 6.5% during the past financial year (2012/13).

We are encouraged that various stakeholders have supported and continue to work with SAPS in a properly coordinated and integrated manner and engage at all levels in our planning and implementation of this plan. That is why SAPS has now established Rural Safety Priority Committees at all police stations.

Rural Safety Priority Committees are functioning at national and provincial level in all provinces. The structures at cluster and police station level have been established in most provinces (North West, Gauteng, Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga).

Provinces which have not established the required structures are in the process of duplicating these structures to all clusters and police stations in their respective provinces.

Decrease in illegal possession of firearms and ammunition

Illegal possession of firearms ration decreased by a marginal 0,7% during the financial year 2012/13.

For at least the past four financial years the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition cases decreased by 1.4%, at an average decrease of 0.4% per annum.

Decrease in All other Theft

All other theft has also reduced by 38.2% over 9 years; 16.0% during the past 4 years; and 7.0% during the past financial year (2012/13). A few highlights in this regards includes:

  • Non-ferrous metals: 614 arrests and 139 convictions affected as result of investigations into the theft of copper cables over the past 4 years.
  • 70 642kg copper cable and 7 270kg aluminium confiscated to date. A National Non-ferrous Metals Crime Combating Committee (NFMCCC) has been established with key role-players to reduce proliferation of these thefts.

We are intensifying the war on cable theft through the Second-Hand Goods Act, 2009 (Act No 6 of 2009), which we began implementing on 1 May 2012. In essence, the Act stipulates that any person who buys a stolen good is as guilty as the person who stole the goods; and harsher sentences will apply to both the buyer and the thief. 

A commission of such an offence gives a Court the power to sentence copper thieves and unscrupulous scrap dealers to imprisonment for a period of 10 years. There is a need to rollout security awareness campaigns targeting informal settlement and raising vigilance levels. 

Metal theft in South Africa is rampant, with an estimated value of R5 billion per annum lost due to the theft. 

Increase in Murder

Murder has shown a constant reduction over the past 9 years. It reduced by 27.2% over 9 years, with a further reduction of 16.6% during the past 4 years. We have now witnessed a slight increase of 0.6% during the past financial year (2012/13).

Since 1994, we have been making steady progress in the fight against crime. This period has been characterized by growing unity in action against crime, a period focused on improving life conditions for all, especially the poor. We will work double harder to ensure this slight increase is re-routed to the downward trends that we experienced over the past 9 years.

Increase in Attempted Murder

Attempted Murder has also reduced by 51.7% over 9 years, 16.8% during the past 4 years. We have however, witnessed an increase of 6.5%during the past financial year.

To highlight the causes for the recent increase in this crime, the contributing provinces are outlined below:

Eastern Cape causes include:

  • Death from robbery that takes place in the streets as some of the victims are found in the street.
  • Domestic violence cases which result in murders that take place behind closed doors.
  • Alcohol-related arguments that take place near taverns.
  • Faction fights in rural environments.
  • The spate of unrest that has spread basic policing thinly as such Public Order Policing becomes constrained.

North West:

  • Labour unrests in the mining sector.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Socio-economic factors like human settlement.

Free State:

  • Illicit mining related killings.
  • Drugs and substance abuse, including sexual-related offences.
  • Rapid growth in gang-related killings.
  • Preponderance of knives.
  • Cross-border crimes (high jacking related).


  • Most deaths are through stranger violence.
  • Liquor related and faction-related killings.
  • The province still has lots of illegal firearms in circulation including utilisation of sharp objects during the commission of such crimes.
  • Taxi-related violence and stock theft.

Northern Cape:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse resulting in conflicts.
  • Preponderance of knives and stabbing (44.5%) and only 4.4 % knives.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Public Order Policing business diversions from labour unrest.

Western Cape:

  • Foreign influx, economic refugees (and illegal businesses).
  • Socio-economic factors, environmental factors with densely populated informal settlements.
  • Displacement of policing.
  • Drugs and drug related-turf wars.
  • Drug-related killings.

We have identified the following necessary interventions to address these challenges:

  • Need to enhance policing partnerships, for example, municipalities to jointly address causes for service delivery related public unrest.
  • Addressing the diagnostics to implement related high-impact interventions to reverse the current state of affairs.
  • Accelerate the resourcing of Public Order Policing; release Vispol to do basic policing and sector policing.
  • Rural strategy on partnerships with rural leaders; resourcing and increase access to services in the rural environment, involve other government departments.
  • Reorganize shift system and ensure strategic deployments to follow crime peaks and frequencies across all station operational environments (Vispol, Detective)
  • Strategic deployment in crime hotspots.
  • Influx from mining requires matching police deployment.
  • Rollout Mining Crime Combating Forums and implement the Illicit Mining Strategy.

Increase in Aggravated Robbery

Aggravated Robbery has reduced by 29.7% over 9 years, 18.7% during the past 4 years (2009/10-2012/13) and only increased by 1.2% during the past financial year. The affected provinces include:

Northern Cape

  • Robberies in the streets.
  • Informal settlements with informal business (16.7%).
  • Formal business accounts for only 3% of the crime.
  • Rural nature of the area does not allow for ease of policing.


  • Most of the crime is street robbery (57%).
  • Policing is affected by Public Order Policing strain on deployment which affects normal policing personnel.
  • Socio-economic factors in peri-urban and rural environment.


  • Socio-economic drivers in peri- urban and vast rural environment policed.
  • Most victims stay alone and therefore become prone to attacks.
  • Influx of foreign owned spaza shops penetrating villages affected by nearness to borders.
  • Truck hijacking spike relating to closeness to the border.

Free State

  • Truck jacking is in preponderance as the Free State is the route to Lesotho and other provinces.
  • Most informal residents are victims of residential robberies.

 Western Cape

  • Bank and Mall followings.
  • Robbery of tobacco trucks and vans.
  • Targeting foreign nationals owning informal business.

Our planned interventions which we are currently implementing include:

  • Set up a task team to address wanted suspects through the docket analysis as a basic premise on trio crimes.
  • Enhanced police visibility in various hotspots.
  • Partnership with the freight services sector to root-out collusion that facilitates this crime.
  • •Enhance partnerships policing necessary in line with the provincial crime prevention strategy.

Increase in Burglary Residential

Burglary in residential has reduced by 22.3% over 9 years, 1.0% during the past 4 years and only just increased by 3.3% during the past financial year. 

We remain concerned about this increase and have begun to pay more attention to this crime. Some of the factors for the increase include negligence of some of the homeowners. We therefore urge homeowners to also take precautionary measures particularly during the festive seasons.

The following crimes continue to persist, although they display some fluctuation over the past 9 years:

Increase in Burglary Non-Residential

Burglary non-residential has increased by 1.1% over 9 years, reduced by 2.0% during the past 4 years, and again increased by 1.7% during the past financial year.

Some of the identified factors for this increase are foreign owned business also used as a home and bank, lack of minimum or basic security measures on the premises as well as abundance of cash on the premises.

Increase in Theft out of or from motor vehicle

Theft out of or from motor vehicles decreased by 27.9% over 9 years however increased by 18.8% during the past 4 years. We have seen an increase of 3.6% during the past financial year (2012/13).

It should be noted that this crime has increased because it has become almost impossible to steal cars due to the escalated security measures that have been designed for newer models. The common modus operandus shared by affected provinces on this crime is the electronic jamming of locking systems. The increase in the second-hand goods market and the presence of pawn-shops for selling stolen items also facilitate this crime.

Our interventions to tackle this challenge include creating awareness through campaigns (theft and buying stolen) as well as targeted pawn shop and warehouses police actions.

Increase in Commercial Crime

Commercial Crime (Fraud) has reduced by 45.5% over 9 years, increased by 10.1% during the past 4 years, and further increased by 0.6%during the past financial year.

One of the affected provinces, North West, has the following facilitators:

  • Syndicated card cloning.
  • Counterfeit cigarettes.
  • Corruption at the ports of entry to facilitate the route for counterfeit cigarettes.

Our planned interventions include: 

  • Identifying and dealing with groups in Crime Intelligence and Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations projects, and not individuals.
  • Policing partnerships with the Tobacco Industry of South Africa.

The following crimes, which form part of the category of robbery aggravated, have been prioritised by government as it directly affects personal security and fear of crime these include:

Increase in Car hijacking

Car hijacking, which reduced by 27.6% over 9 years (2004/5 - 2012/13); 33.0% during the past 4 years (2009/10-2012/13); however it increased by 5.4% during the past financial year (2012/13).

Increase in Robbery at Residential Premises

Robbery at residential premises increased by 69.8% over 9 years, reduced by 9.5% during the past 4 years however has now increased by 3.6%during the past financial year.

Increase in Truck hijacking

Truck hijacking has increased by 4.7% over 9 years, reduced by 34.4% during the past 4 years, and has increased by 14.9% during the past financial year.

Increase in Drug-related Crimes

The drug-related crime ratio increased by 13,5% in the 2012/13 financial year. 

Last year during the release of the crime statistics we said that drug trafficking must become everybody's concern. We emphasized that all of us must organize and mobilize communities to build broader partnerships in pursuit of the ideals of the reconstruction and development, nation-building and reconciliation. 

Increase in cases of Drunken Driving

In 2012/13 driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs ratio increased by 1,5%.

We remain very concerned about the lack of adherence to the rules of the road which have resulted in fatalities and loss of lives. The onus is upon all of us to obey the rules of the road. 

We want to stress that law enforcement authorities will continue to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators.

Policing public protests

Recently, unresolved social issues have resulted in some members of the public expressing themselves through structured and non-structured public gatherings, marches and sometimes public protests. 

In addition there are some instances where these have led to criminal elements being able to make use of public gatherings and protests to pursue criminal acts.

Over the past 4 years, a total of 46 180 incidents were attended to and all were successfully stabilised with 14 843 arrests effected. These include 41 104 peaceful and 5 076 unrests such as SAMWU, SACCAWU, De Doorns, Marikana, Zamdela and Ratanda to mention a few.

During 2012/13 alone police managed 12 399 public incidents. Of these, 10 517 were peaceful and 1 882 were violent public protests with a total of 693 various criminal cases reported. Most of the cases were reported in the Western Cape and North West provinces. Currently, stability has been restored.

As indicated in the introductory remarks, cumulatively we are reducing crime and this is happening against the population growth. As applied on the crime picture of South Africa, one can observe the typically rising population figures against the gradual reduction in crime and crime rates, especially over the past 9 or 4 years.

Crime reduction enhances investments to improve economic conditions

The world as we know is changing and is now characterized by global influences that affect all economies, globally. Crime is also a scourge that respects no borders or economies as it affects all nations.

South Africa today is working to position itself as the promising emerging market in the world. We have a combination of a well-developed business services support and dynamic investment environment with a number of global competitive advantages and opportunities.

Despite the challenges we experienced over the financial year under review, our efforts in crime reduction have been recognized locally and worldwide, in some cases even applauded. 

  • Investments continue to trickle in South Africa and this is demonstrative of our admittance to the BRIC group of countries of Brazil,Russia, India and China (now called BRICS) in 2011.
  • South Africa is the economic powerhouse of the African continent, with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of R2,3 trillion (US$309bn) - four times that of its Southern African neighbours, and comprising 30% of the entire GDP of Africa.
  • The World Bank Group's report; Doing Business 2010, ranked South Africa 34 out of 183 economies, in terms of the ease of doing business.

The overall programme of national democratic transformation that our country has embarked upon will gradually eliminate some of the conditions that breed social crime. So shall our contribution to creating an environment of peace, stability, economic growth and social development in the region, the continent and the rest of the world.

Whatever the setbacks of the moment, we charge all the compatriots and members of the SAPS, to selflessly continue with the commitment to serve and protect the vulnerable. 

Whatever the difficulties and hurdles we may have experienced over the past year, SAPS shall succeed in its endeavors. However improbable it may sound to the skeptics, success is guaranteed.

Collectively, we shall continue to ensure that South Africans are and feel safe.

I thank you.

Issued by the SAPS, September 19 2013

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