• Crime in South Africa was lower between July and September, compared to the previous year - although not as much as the previous quarter.
  • The country’s largest inner-city police stations saw large declines
  • But some outlying areas reported sharp increases.
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The latest statistics released by the SA Police Service show dramatic declines in serious crimes at many of South Africa’s biggest inner-city police stations, but in some outlying areas a crime wave was building.

Across the country, contact crimes (which include murder, attempted murder, sexual offences and other crimes against the person) were almost 12% lower between July and September 2020, when compared to the same period in 2019. But during the height of the lockdown period, in the previous quarter, contact crime was 37% lower than a year ago.

There were big differences across the provinces: while contact crimes dropped 15% in the Western Cape and the Free State, Limpopo and Mpumalanga only saw a decline of 8%. In Gauteng, contact crime levels were only 11% below last year, and in KwaZulu-Natal 10%.

Cape Town Central showed the biggest year-on-year decrease of the large police stations. Serious crimes reported in the inner city halved, while property related crimes, which include burglaries and motor vehicle theft, were down 47%. The city saw its biggest drop in cases of common robbery, recording only 90 incidents between July and September compared to 245 during the same period in 2019, representing a 63% drop.

It's not all good news for Cape Town, though. The central police station still records more cases of theft out of motor vehicles than any other precinct in the country.

And while the CBD may have been afforded a welcome reprieve, other areas of Cape Town are still fighting a deadly crime wave.

Mitchell’s plain recorded the highest number of sexual and common assaults in the country and Khayelitsha tops the national list for attempted murders, with 42 more cases in 2020. Nyanga recorded the highest number of contact crimes – which includes murder, sexual offences, assault, and robbery – in the country, with incidents increasing by 5.9%.

Here are the police stations that recorded the most contact crimes in the quarter to end-September:

Contact crimes cases at police stations. Source: SAPS

The Western Cape features prominently in the country’s top-10 murder list. Of the ten precincts which recorded the highest murder rate, Cape Town stations account for eight. A combined total of 417 people were murdered in three months in Khayelitsha, Harare, Delft, Nyanga, Mfuleni, Philippi East, Kraaifontein, and Samora Machel.

The same phenomenon, whereby crime rates decreased in the inner city, was experienced in Gauteng. Serious crimes reported at Johannesburg Central police station dropped by 34%. While Joburg Central still deals with more cases of common robbery than anywhere else in the country, these, too, dropped by 40%.

And where the Western Cape leads in murders, Gauteng features when it comes to assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm. Seven Gauteng police stations are among the top 10 in South Africa, accounting for 1,401 cases of assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm between July and September 2020

Pretoria Central police station also noted a drop in criminal activity, with a 37% decrease in serious offences. Cases of common robbery were also halved.

But Gauteng saw crime spike in some areas outside of inner cities– with contact crimes in Akasia north of Pretoria up almost 11%. Ivory Park in Gauteng saw an increase in contact crime too, with more than 730 instances reported in three months.

In KZN, Durban Central police station also saw a decline, although not to the same extent as those experienced in Cape Town and Johannesburg, with 18% less serious crimes registered and 25% drop in theft from motor vehicles.

Two areas in the province saw crime increase, with a big 15% spike in contact crimes in Empangeni, with 600 reported in the quarter, and in Plessislaer in Pietermaritzburg there was an increase too, with 736 instances.

Park Road police station in Bloemfontein reported a 33% drop in serious crimes and recorded only 66 cases of common robbery compared to 160 in 2019, representing a 59% drop.

Across the country, the biggest declines for the three months were reported in incidents of common robbery (25% lower than a year ago), rape (-19%), and assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm (-12%).

But attempted murder cases grew by 1.8%, followed by contact sexual offences (+3.2%) and robbery at residential premises (+8%). Cash in transit heists surged by 60%, with a total of 64 robberies occurring during the third quarter.

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