Pretoria ranks among the most dangerous places in the country when it comes to house robberies, with three of the capital's suburbs falling within the top 20 most dangerous and violent areas to live in.

The capital also has the dubious honour of having four of its areas fall within the 10 most dangerous places when it comes to attempted murder, rape, street robberies and assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm (assault GBH)

This was revealed on Monday during the release of the SAPS annual crime statistics at the Union Buildings.

The statistics are for the 2007/08 financial year, from April 1 2007 to March 31 this year.

Violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder, rape, cash-in-transit heists, common assault, indecent assault, assault GBH and aggravated (violent) robberies have decreased marginally across South Africa as the rate of contact crime dropped overall by 6,4 percent.

A breakdown of violent robberies, however, paints a different picture, showing that crimes such as hijackings, house, business and bank robberies have continued to soar.

Hijackings, house, business and bank robberies, as well as cash-in-transit heists are a sub-section of aggravated robberies - one of the crimes that government has tasked the Safety and Security Department to reduce by between 7 percent and 10 percent by 2009.

The department missed its target, with the figures showing an increase of nearly 2 percent from seven years ago.

The worst provinces for hijackings, house and business robberies were Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, which accounted for 80 percent of the country's 14 201 car hijackings, 74,5 percent of the 14 481 house robberies and 71,2 percent of the 9 862 business robberies.

KwaZulu-Natal recorded a 92,9 percent increase in business robberies.

The robberies increased from 997 to 1 923 in KwaZulu-Natal.

Free State, Limpopo and the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape, although having relatively few attacks, recorded dramatic increases of 380,6 percent (62 to 298), 278,3 percent (83 to 314), 237,5 percent (16 to 54), 222,3 percent (197 to 635) and 102,5 percent (241 to 488) respectively.

This shows crime is spreading to areas that have been relatively safe in the past.

Gauteng accounted for 52,6 percent of car hijackings (7 466), 50,5 percent of house robberies (7 314) and 51,7 percent of business robberies (5 098).

While Pretoria and its policing areas were not on the country's top 10 hot spot lists when it came to murders, the capital didn't fare well in terms of robberies and other violent crimes such as rape.

Wierdabrug, Brooklyn and Garsfontein ranked eighth, 13th and 15th respectively out of the 20 most dangerous policing areas when it came to house robberies.

Erasmia, along with Wierdabrug, fell within the top 20 most dangerous areas when it came to truck hijackings, coming in at 15th and 16th respectively.

Atteridgeville, Mamelodi East and Rietgat all fall within the top 10 most dangerous places when it comes to attempted murder, rape and assault GBH.

Out of the 20 most dangerous areas in South Africa for street robberies - Pretoria Central - ranked fifth while Sunnyside ranked 18th.

At the time of going to press, the statistics for the country's various police stations were not available.

Nick Pascoe, the metro police's Garsfontein civilian oversight member, said he was alarmed about Garsfontein's ranking.

"Policing is not progressing as it should. Crime has come to stay and until the government takes proper action, makes crime prevention important and provides a proper budget, crime will stay."

Asked what the SAPS was doing to reduce aggravated robberies, Deputy Police Commissioner Andre Pruis said they had been given a week to come up with a new proposal on how to deal with "these crimes".

The deadline follows a crime strategy planning session in June last year that appeared to have failed in some areas.

"Because not all crimes can be fought with the same strategy, we will be looking at new strategies.

"These include the deployment of specialised units in new ways as well as approaching investigations from different angles, such as the centralising of dockets," he said.

He said they had seen "incredible" successes when case dockets had been centralised.

Pruis said the new proposals would look at what had worked in the past, and what had not, in order to come up with new strategies.

Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said: "The government is always concerned that crime levels continue to remain at an unacceptably high level. We would have wanted a more drastic decrease."

Increases and decreases

Crime: last year's figures; this year's figures

Murder: 19 202; 18 487

Attmurder: 20 142; 18 795

Rape: 39 304; 36 190

Indecent assault: 6 812; 6 763

Assault GBH: 218 030; 210 104

Robbery with aggravated circumstances: 126 558; 118 312

Car hijackings: 13 599; 14 201

House robberies: 12 761; 14 481

Business robberies: 6 689; 9 862

Bank robberies: 129; 144