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The latest crime statistics were presented to Parliament today, with acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and minister Nkosinathi Nhleko putting a positive spin on the information. According to them, the crime situation has improved, with seven of the country’s provinces showing an overall decrease in crime.

“The downward trend in crime statistics shows that our efforts are making a serious dent in reducing crime,” Phahlane said. But some have suggested that people have given up on reporting crimes to the police, and as a result certain crimes have not been reported as often as in the years before. This could account for the decrease in certain types of community reported crime, including burglaries at home, sex crimes and common robbery.

Corruption still lumped with other commercial crimes

However, as usual, not a word was said about levels of corruption, which is buried deep in the other serious crimes category as part of the commercial crime sub-category. The two other sub-categories are shoplifting and other theft. Besides other serious crimes, the stats cover three other broad categories, namely contact crimes, contact-related crimes and property-related crimes.

Corruption is classified as a crime under the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Activities Act of 2004. This legislation clearly lays out a definition of corruption and the steps which must be taken when a transgression is suspected or proven – one of which is to report it.

Other serious crimes have decreased as a whole by 4.1% over the last year and by 10% over a period of 10 years. However, commercial crime as a whole has increased by 3.1% from the last report, after two consecutive years of decreases, while the other two sub-categories have decreased. Head of crime research and statistics for the South African Police Service (SAPS) Norman Sekhukhune, who gave the presentation, named some of these commercial crimes, such as fraud and card cloning.

“These [other serious] crimes seem to be on the increase and this has happened in eight provinces, with only Gauteng showing a decrease,” Sekhukhune said.

But this does not seem to be a concern to the SAPS. “We are registering progress. We are beginning to see a decreasing trend. The only problem is contact crimes,” said Nhleko.

Violent protest increased dramatically

The percentage of peaceful protests has decreased by almost 56%, while those that are rowdy have increased by over 10%. The increase in violent protests means that when police are deployed to these locations, said Sekhukhune, they are taken away from the core business that they should be focusing on.

In the majority of cases the violent protests are related to poor service delivery, whether this be water, education or sanitation, and this, in turn, can often be linked to corruption.