Crime and the legal system in South Africa

Crime and the legal system in South Africa

Home About South Africa Government, Law & Administration Crime and the legal system in South Africa
Last update on December 13, 2018

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.

Crime rates in South Africa

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.

Most dangerous places

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.

South African police service

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.