Crime, security in SA...

By Lee Rondganger Time of article published Nov 6, 2007

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There is nothing we don't already know when one flips through the pages of the latest edition of the South Africa Survey 2006/2007 on the section dedicated to crime and security.

South Africa has one of the highest crime rates in the world.

Police commissioner Jackie Selebi has been accused of having links to the crime underworld, and Minister of Safety and Security Charles Nqakula told people to stop whingeing about crime or leave the country.

These and many other facts are all contained in the survey, but the fact that it is presented in an academic form for world consumption makes it startling, especially when comparison are made with other countries. It is such detail that would have academics and crime researches crunching numbers for hours.

Take for example the statistic on prison escapes, which, unlike some aspects of crime, show a dramatic decrease.

According to the figures, there were 1 859 prison escapes during the 1977/78 financial year compared to just 112 for the 2005/06 period. This is despite the fact that the prison population almost doubled between those years, from 99 292 in 1978/79 to 150 302 in 2005/06.

Also interesting is the number of sworn police officers compared to the number of active security officers.

According to the survey, there were 115 331 active security officials in 1997 and by 2006 that figured jumped to 296 901. In comparison, in 1997, there were 110 177 police officers and by 2006 it had increased by just 4 064 members to 114 241.

While the statistics show that the 21 most serious categories of crime per 100 000 people dropped by 11,3 percent between 1994/95 to 2005/06, it showed that rape increased by 22 percent over the same period, from 44 751 reported incidents in 1994/5 to 54 926 in 2005/06.

The murder rate per 100 000 people of the population, however, dropped between 1994/95 and 2005/06, from 66,9 to 39,5 per 100 000 people.

However, when these figures are compared to 13 other countries, South Africa is ranked top of the list.

While India had the most murders (37 170), South Africa still scored higher - (21 995 murders) - when it came to the ratio per 100 000 people in the population. India has more than a billion citizens, compared to South Africa's 47-million.

An alarming figure is the number of cases that get struck off the roll. Between 2005/06 and 2006/07 there was a 7,8 percent increase in the number of cases that had been struck off the roll, a jump from 81 838 to 88 245.

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