Crime and the legal system in South Africa

Crime and the legal system in South Africa

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Even though the number of serious crimes has decreased in the last few years, South Africa still has a high level of violence.

Over the past twenty years, crime in South Africa has increased at an alarming rate. During the period between 1975 and 1982, reported crimes remained at a constant level (around 4,400 per 100,000 people). From 1982 to 1993, this number increased dramatically, reaching 5,747. What is most concerning is that, at the same time, the conviction rate has declined. The number of people convicted of crimes has plummeted-from 1,611 per 100,000 people in 1972 to 1,145 in 1992. Statistics for the last few years indicate that the number of convictions have reached their lowest point in over forty years.

According to South African Crime Statistics reported at the beginning of September 2010, the murder rate in the country fell below 17,000 a year for the period from April 2009 to March 2010. During the same period of time, the police recorded approximately 2.1 million serious crime cases in the entire country. The official police statement is that, even though the drop is significant, the rate is still too high. 

The most dangerous provinces, according to police statistics, are Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and KwaMashu north of Durban, especially with respect to murders and carjacking. With a population of 500,000, Kwa-Zulu Natal had 235 murders last year. Sandton in Johannesburg and Gauteng are in the lead position for house robbery in South Africa.

With regards to non-violent crimes, such as house burglaries, South Africa is safer than countries such as Australia, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada.

An object of concern in the South African system is the Police Service. The observation of the members of the Criminal Justice Policy Unit at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) is that police officers are sometimes incapable of doing routine work, like taking proper statements and carrying out thorough investigations. Judges have expressed great concern about the quality of statements taken by the Police.

They are not the only ones who have doubts regarding the Police. More than 50 percent of the people who were victims of crime felt the Police were not "adequate enough" in controlling crime. Typical comments were that there is no follow up, that police displayed negative attitudes and came across as unprofessional. Negative attitudes were displayed by police mainly in car theft, robbery, mugging, homicide and assault with a weapon.

Home security experts recommend that you use your common sense, the experience of others, and technology to make the lives of you and your family safer. 

Milena Yotova / Expatica
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3 Comments To This Article

  • Billie posted:

    on 12th January 2014, 22:22:30 - Reply

    THE devastated family of a Port Elizabeth man stabbed to death while trying to protect his girlfriend from muggers in Central were battling yesterday to come to terms with his "senseless murder".

    Newly qualified gas technician Clyde Byrns, 26, of Kamma Park, bled to death on the pavement near the Engen garage in Rink Street after being stabbed in the neck.

    Police patrolling in a van saw the scuffle but arrived seconds too late.

    Three people have been arrested.

    Byrns and his 28-year-old girlfriend, whose name is being withheld for her protection, were walking in Rink Street at about 10pm on Sunday after withdrawing cash from an ATM when two men and a woman snatched his girlfriend's handbag.

    Byrns was stabbed during a scuffle with one of the muggers. His shattered family hailed him yesterday as a hero for fearlessly taking on the muggers.

    Byrns, who moved back to South Africa six years ago after living in the UK for several years, worked at Fennell Gas and Appliances in Newton Park.
  • MARGIE BENADIE posted:

    on 7th August 2013, 13:44:16 - Reply

    With regards to non-violent crimes, such as house burglaries, South Africa is safer than countries such as Australia, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Canada. I LIVE IN NEW ZEALAND FOR 5 YEARS NOW. AND BELIEVE ME NEW ZEALAND IS 50 TIMES SAFER THAN SOUTH AFRIKS
  • John McIntosh posted:

    on 17th June 2013, 22:23:45 - Reply

    South Africans are exposed to such high levels of violent crime, that the public does not even bother to report "petty" crimes like burglary because nothing will be done to investigate these crimes. There is no way on God's green earth that first world countries have less burglaries per capita than South Africa!! [Edited by moderator]