Rorisang Kgosana
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
12 Sep 2018
6:42 am

SA crime stats scary because ‘cops dropped the ball’

Rorisang Kgosana

Minister Cele says it's important now to collectively pick up the ball, change the game plan and reposition the SAPS to be a winning team.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, 17 August 2018, Unisa Campus, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has vowed to put its head on a block to curb the “shocking” increase in serious crimes, particularly murder, as they have “dropped the ball”, said Police Minister Bheki Cele yesterday.

After presenting the 2017-18 crime statistics before the police portfolio committee in parliament yesterday, Cele expressed shame, shock and disgust at the rate of crime in South Africa in the 12 months period, stating the figures were “scary”.

Between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, three contact crimes – murder, sexual offence, and attempted murder – have increased.

And Cele admits the police have dropped the ball. “We declare that we’ve dropped the ball, but what is important is how do we collectively pick up the ball, change the game plan and reposition the SAPS to be a winning team,” he said.

“The worst thing we can do, which cannot be done in my tenure, is to come and give the same crime statistics again next year.

“South Africans shouldn’t live in fear as a norm, or take it as a norm that 57 people die every day through guns and knives. It can’t be normal that children as young as two years disappear, get killed and buried,” he added.

According to the statistics, 20 336 murder cases were reported, showing a 6.9% increase – a spike of 1 320 murder reports compared to the previous year. Of the murders, 85 were of police officers while 62 were farm murders.

Sexual offences, which include rape, sexual assault, attempted sexual offence, and contact sexual offence, have also increased by 0.9%, with Gauteng taking the lead.

Of the 40 035 rape cases reported in SA, Gauteng comes top again, with 8 062. The province recorded 362 more rape cases compared to the previous year.

The worst police station when it came to reporting sexual offences was Sunnyside in Pretoria.

Despite an increase in carjacking, house and business robberies, contact crimes showed a 1.9% dip in the 2017-18 year.



  • Almost a third of murder victims in South Africa died by the barrel of a gun.
  • Of the 20 336 murdered between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 6 551 were killed with a gun, representing 32.2% of all murders recorded during this time period.
  • About 4 868 people were killed with a knife; 1 759 with other sharp instruments; 510 with stones and bricks; 165 with bottle heads; 90 with pangas; 76 with axes; 72 with sjamboks and 71 with a blunt instrument. Those killed by another with their bare hands stood at 445.


Women and children

  • More women and children are being murdered in SA;
  • A breakdown of the 20 366 murders shows 2 930 of the victims are women and 985 are children (691 boys and 294 girls), representing an increase of 20.4% in boys, 10.9% for girls and 11% for women;
  • This means that on average every day eight women are murdered and at least two children;
  • The Western Cape has the highest number of child murders at 279, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 221, and the Eastern Cape with 180. Gauteng recorded 108 child murders, the Free State 52, North West 49, Mpumalanga 46, Limpopo 31, and Northern Cape 19.


Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, the following decreases were experienced across the 17 community-reported serious crimes:

  • Contact crimes decreased 1.1%;
  • Contact-related crimes decreased 4.4%;
  • Property-related crimes decreased 6.0%; and
  • Other serious crimes decreased 6.6%.

Under contact crimes, the following was recorded between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 financial years:

  • Murder increased 6.9%;
  • Attempted murder increased 0.2%;
  • Robbery with aggravating circumstances decreased 1.8%;
  • Common robbery decreased 5.0%;
  • Rape increased 0.5%;
  • Sexual assault increased 8.2%;
  • Assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm decreased 1.9%; and 
  • Common assault decreased 0.1%;

Carjacking, residential and nonresidential robberies. Between 2016-17 and 2017-18, this was recorded:

  • Carjacking decreased 2.3%;
  • Robbery at residential premises decreased 0.4%;
  • Robbery at nonresidential premises decreased 3.1%;

Contact related crimes – 2016-17 and 2017-18, the following was recorded:

  • Arson decreased 10.5%;
  • Malicious damage to property decreased 4.2%.

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