How much do we rely on crime statistics in South Africa?

How much do we rely on crime statistics in South Africa? Read more below in this recent article from

Bryte Insurance has released its March 2017 crime tracker, showing that overall crime levels are down – but public perceptions around high levels of crime remain unmoved.

The Bryte Insurance Crime Tracker is an indicator of long-term crime trends in South Africa as captured by insurance claims.

It measures the annual change, on a monthly basis, in crime-related claims due to hijacking, robbery, theft and malicious damage, committed against individuals and businesses.

The data reflected a 2.5% contraction in March 2017 when compared to the same month in 2016.

The theft category decelerated to a 1.5% annual growth in March 2017 from 3.8% in February 2017, while growth in total crimes against individuals decelerated to a 2.3% annual growth rate in March 2017 from 9.4% in February 2017.

In comparison, growth in total crimes against businesses contracted annually by 5.4% in March 2017, from the 9.9% contraction in February 2017.

Contact Crime, Malicious Damage and Theft

The Bryte Crime Tracker for contact crime (robbery and hijacking) contracted by 10.2% on an annual basis in March 2017 from a 23.5% contraction in February 2017.

Malicious Damage (to fixed and movable assets) contracted by 2.4% in March 2017 from an annual growth rate of 1.4% in February 2017.

Theft moderated to a 1.5% growth rate on an annual basis in March 2017, from the temporary peak of 3.8% growth in February 2017. This is the fourth consecutive month that has recorded annual growth in the theft category.

Public opinion

Bryte’s crime statistics matches a recent Stats SA report exploring the extent of, and circumstances surrounding, housebreaking/burglary and home robbery.

This data showed that the general crime rate (in terms of the proportion of households that experience crime) has been declining over the last five years.

This reality, however, has not quelled the growing perception that crime is on the increase in South Africa.

“We need to take theft seriously, as most criminals start off by stealing small items such as mobile phones, but unfortunately ‘graduate’ to become violent criminals who eventually become part of organised crime syndicates,” said Cloud Saungweme, chief claims officer at Bryte Insurance.

“While we see a decrease in violent crimes, the emotional trauma is so severe and the fear instilled in community members so intense, that we also see a general increase in security upgrades in homes and work properties,” he said.

“The problem is that many people view crime as a problem that the authorities need to address, as opposed to becoming part of a community policing forum (CPF). The police cannot fight crime on their own.”

Over 50% of all crimes experienced by households in South Africa in 2015/16 were house break-ins followed by home robbery (11.9%), Saungweme said.

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