Crime statistics released by the police this week were "sexed-up" in an attempt to mislead the public, the Democratic Alliance has claimed.
Police Minister Charles Nqakula released annual crime statistics based on a ratio per 100 000 of the population.
He said that murder rates were down 1,3 percent from 48 per 100 000 people in 2001/02 to 47,4 per 100 000 in 2002/03.
But actual murder figures had increased from 21 405 to 21 553, said Douglas Gibson, MP and DA spokesperson on crime.
The DA had not factored in population growth, which the police had - a method described as "misleading" by Gibson.
He said Nqakula had presented crime data as ratios of projected population levels "to obscure the fact that crime has actually increased in most of the key categories".
Whereas police had claimed that rape was down 5,7 percent from 121,8 per 100 000 in 2001/02 to 115,3 in 2002/03, "in real terms, the decrease was from 54 923 rapes to 52 425 - a decrease of 2,7 percent," Gibson said.
He said presenting crime statistics as crimes per 100 000 of the population had two major problems:
"It has little meaning for the South African public, who are interested in how many murders, robberies, etc there were in absolute terms, and whether this increased or decreased. This is how crime statistics were presented in the past.
"There is no single population model with which to extrapolate population numbers between censuses - it depends on a number of assumptions. The model that predicts the highest population level and, consequently, the lowest ratio, could be chosen to sex up the SA Police Service's achievements in tackling crime."
The DA presented its own figures for some crimes as follows:
Claim: Ratios are up from 70,2 in 01/02 to 78,9 in 02/03.
Fact: In the same time period, the increase was from 31 293 to 35 861, or 14,6 percent.
Claim: Ratios are down from 592,4 in 01/02 to 585,9 in 02/03, a decrease of 1,1 percent.
Fact: Actual numbers increased from 264 012 to 266 321 - ie there were 2 309 more assaults in 02/03.
Claim: Ratios are up from 587, in 01/02 to 621, in 02/03.
Fact: In real terms, the increase was from 261 886 to 282 526, or 20 640 more assaults.
Claim: Ratio showed an increase of 6,6 percent between 01/02 and 02/03.
Fact: there was an increase of 10 169 - from 116 736 to 126 905, or 8,7 percent.
Claim: For all housebreakings 01/02 compared to 02/03 shows a decrease of 0,9 percent.
Fact: In the same period burglary at residential premises increased by 17 327 from 302 657 to 319 984, or 5,7percent
Claim: Vehicle hijackings (cars and trucks) decreased by 20 percent from 01/02 to 02/03.
Fact: Car hijackings decreased by seven percent, from 15 846 to 14 691. - Political Bureau