File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Housebreaking still top crime in SA

By Nicola Daniels Time of article published Dec 2, 2020

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Cape Town – Housebreaking is still the number one crime in South Africa, according to the most recent Governance, Public Safety and Justice Survey (GPSJS) 2019/20 report released by Statistics SA (StatsSA).

The organisation said yesterday the number of households broken into had increased from 2.1 million in 2015/16, to 2.3 million in 2019/20.

“With an estimated 1.2 million incidences of housebreaking in 2019/20, and affecting 891 000 households in South Africa, this represented 5.3% of all households in the country.

“While incidents of housebreaking peaked in June and December during the 2018/19 period, housebreaking peaked in June, September and December in 2019/20,” Stats SA said.

Meanwhile, home robbery, regarded as a violent crime because people are present, declined between 2015/16 (506 000) and 2019/20 (415 000), it said.

The spike in housebreakings could in part be attributed to the economic effect of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Grassy Park Community Policing Forum (CPF) said.

“In Grassy Park, we experience the same; housebreaking, theft of motor vehicles, robbery types of crimes are on the increase. Our suspicion is that it is the result of Covid-19. People don't have money.

“They are in survival mode so these are economic crimes. The lockdown brought a lot of economic challenges, people lost their jobs, they are working for half salaries and they still need to eat.

“The situation is not back to normal, causing a spiral in economic crime. We saw this increase since the lockdown levels started to drop from about level 3, when more movement was allowed.

“And it is not just the theft of technology. It is all foodstuff (too),” CPF chairperson Melvin Jonkers said.

He said that crimes often occurred during the day because at night there were neighbourhood watches and a national curfew.

“Sometimes some of these crimes also transition to contact crimes, which result in the victims being stabbed or assaulted,” Jonkers said.

Carmelita Prins, communication and sustainability officer at Community Action towards a Safer Environment (Case), said the impact on victims was traumatic.

“From a psychological perspective, your home is where you are supposed to feel safe. If your house is broken into, it feels quite different – a space you are not comfortable in any longer.

“You feel violated and people don't always know how to cope with the trauma.”

Other findings include an estimated 88 000 incidences of theft of motor vehicles in 2019/20.

Gauteng (45 000) recorded the highest number of households that experienced car theft, followed by the Western Cape (11 000) and Eastern Cape (8 000). Limpopo and the Northern Cape (both at 1 000) had the least number of households that had experienced car theft.

An estimated 1.1 million incidences of theft of personal property occurred in 2019/20, affecting 902 000 individuals aged 16 years and older.

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