South Africa’s police service has released the country’s crime statistics for 2016/17. This factsheet provides a breakdown of the main crimes of public interest.

The South African Police Service released the country’s crime statistics for 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017 at the end of October 2017.

The crime statistics in this factsheet are presented in both absolute numbers (19,016 murders, for example) and crime rates (34.2 murders per 100,000). The crime rate is used to allow fair comparisons between years, given that populations generally grow.

We have summarised the main crimes of public interest in this factsheet.

(Note: At the time of publishing this factsheet, the police had not disclosed which population estimates they used to calculate their crime rates. We have calculated the crime rates using the most recent estimates for 2015 and 2016, which were released in Statistics South Africa’s 2017 mid-year population estimates. The crime rates calculated using these figures differ marginally from the police’s figures.)

1. Murder
Murder is the unlawful and intentional killingof another person. It is the most reliable crime statistic. This is because, according to Gareth Newham from the Institute for Security Studies, most murders can be independently verified.

In 2016/17, the police recorded a total of 19,016 murders, up from 18,673 murders in 2015/16. The murder rate increased marginally from 34.1 to 34.2 per 100,000 people. The Eastern Cape province had the highest murder rate at 55.9 per 100,000 people.

In 2016/17, an average of 52.1 people were murdered every day.

Attempted Murder

A total of 18,205 attempted murders were reported to the police in 2016/17, up from 18,127 the previous year. The attempted murder rate decreased from 33.1 to 32.7 per 100,000 people.

2. Sexual Offences

The sexual offences crime category contains the crimes detailed in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Act. Crimes that fall under this broad category include rape, compelled rape, sexual assault, incest, bestiality, statutory rape and sexual grooming of children, among others.

In 2016/17, a total of 49,660 sexual offences were recorded by the police, down from 51,895 in 2015/16. The far majority of the sexual offences recorded were rapes, followed by sexual assaults.


Rape is an offence included under the broad category of sexual offences.

South Africa’s legal definition of rape is very broad. It includes the oral, anal or vaginal penetration of a person (male or female) with a genital organ, anal or vaginal penetration with any object and the penetration of a person’s mouth with the genital organs of an animal

The police recorded a total of 39,828 rapes in 2016/17, down from 41,503 in 2015/16. An average of 109.1 rapes were recorded each day.

The rape rate decreased from 75.8 to 71.6 per 100,000 people. The Eastern Cape had the highest rape rate at 105.3 per 100,000 people.

The Institute for Security Studies warns that “the rape statistics recorded by the police cannot be taken as an accurate measure of either the extent or trend of this crime”.

Unfortunately, there is no recent, nationally representative underreporting rate for South Africa that can be used to estimate the number of rapes committed each year.

Sexual assault

The police recorded a total of  6,271 sexual assaults, up marginally from 6,212 in 2015/16.

3. Assault

Common assault

Common assault is the “unlawful and intentional direct and indirect application of force to the body of another person” or “threat of application of immediate personal violence to another”.

In 2016/17, 156,450 common assaults were recorded. On average, 428.6 people were victims of common assault every day.

The assault rate decreased from 301.3 per 100,000 people to 281.3 in 2016/17.

The Institute for Security Studies cautions that these statistics may not reflect reality: “Police statistics for assault are notoriously unreliable because most victims don’t report these crimes to the police. Since the victim and perpetrator may be related (such as in a case of domestic violence) victims are often reluctant to disclose assault.”

Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm

In 2016/17, 170,616 assaults with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm were recorded. This means on average 467.4 assaults with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm were recorded every day.

The rate of these type of assaults decreased from 334.1 per 100,000 people in 2015/16 to 306.8 in 2016/17.

4. Robbery

Common Robbery

A robbery is committed when a person unlawfully and intentionally forcefully removes and appropriates property belonging to another person.

In 2016/17, 53,418 common robberies were recorded, down from 54,110 the year before.

The robbery rate decreased from 98.8 per 100,000 people in 2015/16 to 96 in 2016/17.

On average, 146.4 common robberies were recorded each day.

Robbery with aggravating circumstances

Robbery with aggravating circumstances occurs when a person uses a gun or weapon to unlawfully and intentionally forcefully remove property belonging to another person.

In 2016/17, 140,956 robberies with aggravating circumstances were recorded. This is a 6.4% increase from 2015/16.

The robbery with aggravating circumstances rate increased from 242.1 in 2015/16 to 253.4 in 2016/17.

On average, 386.2 robberies with aggravating circumstances were recorded each day.

House robbery

House robberies occur when people are confronted in their homes and are victims of theft.

In 2016/17, there were 22,343 incidents of house robbery recorded. On average, 61.2households were robbed each day.

The house robbery rate increased from 38 per 100,000 people in 2015/16 to 40.2 in 2016/17.

South Africa’s 2016/17 victims of crime survey revealed that only 56.7% of victims reported the crime to the police.

5. Hijacking of cars

In 2016/17, the police recorded 16,717 carjacking incidents in South Africa. This was the highest number recorded in the past ten years.

The hijacking of cars increased 14.5% from the 2015/16 figure of 14,602.

On average, 45.8 cars were hijacked per day in 2016/17. Over half of the crimes occurred in Gauteng.

6. House burglary

A house burglary is committed when a person “unlawfully and intentionally breaks into a building” with the intention to take something on the premises.

It was reported as the most feared crime in South Africa in the 2016/17 Victims of crime survey.

In 2016/17, 246,654 house burglaries were recorded – an average of 675.8 houses every day.

The house burglary rate decreased from 457.7 in 2015/16 to 443.5 in 2016/17.

South Africa’s 2016/17 victims of crime survey revealed that 28.3% of house burglary victims did not report the crime to the police because they thought the police would not act.

7. Theft of car or motorcycle

In 2016/17, 53,307 cars or motorcycles were stolen – an average of 146 each day. This is down from 53,809 in 2015/16.

8. Drug-related offences

This crime category includes the crimes of use, possession of and dealing in drugs.

The police note that this crime category is “usually not reported to the police by members of the public. These crimes come to attention primarily as a result of police actions like roadblocks and searches.”

When drug-related crimes show an increase it is not always a bad thing: “An increase in these crimes may actually indicate that the police are more active, whereas a decrease may indicate reduced police activity.”

In 2016/17, the police recorded  292,689 – an average of 801.9 offences each day. This means that 526.2 crimes were recorded for every 100,000 people in the country, up from 473.4 in 2015/16.

THE POST / 12 OCTOBER 2017, 2:00PM / 

Durban – Police are convinced that the “follow home” airport attacks have dropped since July.
However, security companies say the situation is still critical.

Their clients are forking out R3000, and sometimes more, for armed security to escort them safely from OR Tambo International Airport to their destinations.

National police spokesman Brigadier Vish Naidoo said the number of “follow home” attacks have dropped since July 25 – from up to five incidents a week to nil.

This, he said, was until two weeks ago when 36 Dutch tourists were attacked and robbed by five armed men – one of them posing as a uniformed police officer.

The tourists were allegedly followed from the airport and forced to stop in Fourways, north of Johannesburg.

They were robbed of their personal items and luggage.

Allegations from security bosses and individuals involved in crime fighting initiatives say there is a syndicate operating at the airport – with some OR Tambo staff involved in tipping off criminals involved in the attacks. Naidoo said police could not rule out this possibility but it had not been conclusively proven.

“There are many theories and allegations have been made but no one has come forward with evidence to substantiate this,” said Naidoo.

“We have put into place a new revise strategy to deal with the attacks. One of the many strategies we have implemented to curb the problem, include a vetting process of staff employed at the airport.”

Naidoo said prior to July 25 the attacks were reaching unprecedented proportions.

He said this dropped after Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula intervened and a decision was taken for the police to further announce their presence.


“We have established a close working relationship with private security companies, SA Tourism and guest house owners to find ways to combat and prevent these attacks. These criminals are after money, personal valuables and luggage.”

The general manager of Johannesburg-based Asar Security, Raees Shamar, said they offered private armed security escort to businesses and the general public from the airport for the last three years.

“We get about 20 calls a week for armed escort from the airport to a client’s home. The situation is clearly critical,” said Shamar.

“People pay from R3 000 for armed escort – there are three armed, trained and certified officers per car. Some request two cars as added precaution. The price fluctuates per car.”

He said his officers are alert and looked out for any suspicious activity and obstacles on the road.

Shamar added that he was convinced certain airport staff are involved in tipping off criminals.

“People coming back home with large sums of money or other valuables will have to declare this at customs and that is where they are being marked. There is no other way a criminal would know who to target unless they are getting inside information.”

Yaseen Theba , the director of Vision Tactical, an armed security company, said spotters working at the airport were a vital key to the “follow home” attacks.

He said to their existing clients, they offered free escort from the airport and charged a fee from R1000 to non-clients from the airport to Sandton.

This, he said, depends on the time of day, traffic and number of people travelling.

“While my officers don’t have the power to do what the police have, creating a presence at the airport and on the roads leading out of the airport serves as a strong deterrent to would-be criminals.

“We didn’t just offer this service because we saw a gap in the market and decided to capitalise on it. Our clients requested it due to the high number of attacks.”

Theba urged travellers to be discreet with large sums of money, jewellery and electronic equipment and to be alert.

Sizwe Sampson, the client liaison officer for Beagle Watch in Fairlands, said “follow home” attacks also happened to people who visit public places like the mall.

“We get about 100 calls a month for this service. It’s an alarming reality but people do get followed home from public areas.”

Crime activist Yusuf Abramjee said: “These robberies are going to kill SA tourism.

The negative reports are going across the world. If police are not able to protect people, the alternative would be to get private security. I suspect police involvement in some of these attacks, as in the case with the Dutch tourists. A policeman in uniform stopped the tourists – he is either a rogue or fake cop”

Naidoo said it had not been confirmed if the person involved was a policeman.


12 October 2017 – 21:53


A group of seven tourists‚ including an Iraqi diplomat‚ were attacked at the Corlett Drive offramp in Johannesburg on Thursday evening.

Police could not immediately confirm the attack and Gauteng police spokesman Kay Makhubele said he was on his way to the crime scene on Thursday night.

According to tweets from anti-crime activist Yusuf Abramjee‚ the tourists were followed from the OR Tambo International Airport as they made their way to their hotel.

He said one Iraqi ambassador was assaulted‚ and the tourists’ luggage was stolen. He said the criminals left the scene in two vehicles.


Introduction and Definition

Crime and criminal activity require from South African motorists alertness and caution to more than only other vehicles.

Even though progress has been made in fighting hijackings and vehicle theft, there has been an increase in theft from vehicles. Many of these are what can be defined as “Smash-and-Grab”.

In this section, we would like to discuss the crime of smash-and-grab in more detail and offer recommendations to motorists on preventing this sudden invasion of privacy and likely loss of possessions.

What is a smash and grab crime?

A smash and grab criminal turns a pleasant drive into a nightmare when criminals are pouncing on unsuspecting drivers. The criminal act is usually characterised by smashing through some sort of barrier (e.g. vehicle window) while the car is stationary at traffic lights or stuck in slow moving traffic and grabbing something of value (e.g. jackets, handbags, laptops, etc).

A smash and grab usually plays on the element of speed and surprise  -The violent smashing of the window at the passenger side places the motorist in a few moments of silent paralysis – just enough to get hold of the valuables and flee the scene!

These car burglaries can be expensive, from the cost of repairs to the vehicle and windows to replacing your belongings. The victims will most likely be traumatised and feel victimised for quite some time.

What is being targeted?

The thieves are usually after valuables which they can easily identify from outside the vehicle and sell as easily once removed from the possession of the motorists. Items targeted include:

  • Purses, hand bags and wallets
  • Laptop bags, briefcases and backpacks
  • Shopping bags
  • Cell phones, MP3 players and tablets
  • Loose change and CDs
  • Keys

Where are drivers most at risk and what are the methods used?

We find in the media mentions and warnings of so-called “Hot spots”. Even without warning signs, the cautious driver would be able to identify areas where he/ she would be most at risk. These tend to be places where criminals know that vehicles will be stationary, where drivers can be easily distracted and where the criminal can make a quick and effective escape.

Who are most vulnerable?

  • The victims are most often single drivers with belongings on the passenger seat.
  • Criminals tend to focus on female drivers well knowing that they are less likely to chase after them.
  • Drivers who are distracted are most vulnerable – those busy on the cellular phone or with a cigarette in the hand.
  • Vehicles left unattended away from the crowds and with valuables visible are easy targets for a quick smash-and-grab.

Methods used and Modus Operandi

  • Criminals will focus on those areas where they know traffic is often congested and where vehicles will remain stationary for a while.
  • These criminals also will often work in pairs where one will pose as a vendor, distracting the attention of the driver while the other party will perform the smash –and-grab from the passenger side.
  • Objects are sometimes placed on the road and motorists make the mistake of leaving their vehicles to remove these objects. This is when the vehicles are then easily targeted.
  • Communication technology such as cellular phones has also enabled these criminals to identify potential victims from a bridge or position of elevation and to relay this message to their partners in crime further along the road.
  • The person making the smash and grab will most likely select the scene of the crime as an area where a fast getaway would be possible for him and any pursuit would be difficult.

Advice on preventing smash-and-grabs

Even though it is not always possible to avoid the so-called “hotspots” where these criminals prey on unsuspecting motorists, it is possible to reduce the risk of becoming a smash and grab the victim. Motorists can make these burglaries more difficult. Smash-and-grab car burglars don’t want difficult challenges and would rather prefer to move on when they suspect hurdles to the swift execution of these crimes.

We would like to advise the following measures:

Safe Driving

  • Lock all your doors and close the windows when driving – Never open vehicle windows or doors for strangers.
  • Avoid opening your windows or getting involved in discussions with street vendors or anyone handing out flyers.
  • Be constantly on the lookout for suspicious looking characters.
  • Always be conscious of your surroundings and remain alerted when coming to an intersection or stopping your vehicle.
  • Be wary of people standing at intersections – They may be innocent but perpetrators mix with these people while waiting for an opportunity to pounce.
  • If you encounter obstacles such as rocks or tyres do not get out of your vehicle to remove them -immediately reverse and drive off in the opposite direction.
  • If it’s late at night, slow down well in advance so that the light changes green by the time you reach the intersection.
  • Leave a gap between you and the car in front of you to give you room to escape (i.e. drive away from the scene), if anything should happen.
  • Be especially wary whenever you see broken glass lying on the road. If the pieces of glass are still scattered across the road, chances are that a smash and grab occurred just recently.

Taking Away the Attraction

  • Reduce the chances of becoming a target by removing that which the criminals are trying to get their hands on.
  • Smash-and-grab car burglars aren’t exactly criminal masterminds. Many simply act on impulse.
  • Don’t have bags, cellular phones, briefcases or other valuables visible inside the vehicle – valuables only attract thieves who may break your car window.
  • Hide your valuables. – Car floors, dashboards and seats are not good places to leave items.
  • If you can’t take valuable items with you, hide them out of sight in your trunk.

Safety when Parking

  • Thieves target car parks. Always park your car in attended parking lots.
  • When parking at night ensures that you always park in a well-lit area.
  • Keep your car visible. Thieves do not want witnesses – You can help prevent a smash-and-grab by parking your car in crowded areas near pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
  • Never sit in your vehicle without being conscious of your surroundings.
  • Lock your doors and roll up your windows when you park
  • Activate your security system
  • Consider window tinting (if permitted by local laws)
  • Avoid using the console or glove box as mobile lockboxes
  • Don’t hand a car burglar your keys. Leaving your key on the dash or in the ignition is an invitation to a car burglar. And keep in mind that if you have a great hiding place for a spare key (in your wheel well or above your sun visor), a thief has thought of it, too.
  • Stow your belongings like shopping bags and laptops in the trunk before you get to the parking area.

Window Safety Film

What is ‘smash and grab’ film?

Protective safety film is pasted on vehicle windows to help prevent smash and grab incidents. The protective film is usually tinted so that no one can see into the car, while also preventing the windows from shattering. While the glass breaks, the film holds the pieces in place, which further protects you from broken glass.

Although smash and grab film may not prevent smash and grab incidents from taking place, it will give you a few extra minutes to recompose yourself and drive away safely.

If you don’t have smash and grab film installed, leave your window open slightly (approximately 3 cm, but less than 5cm) whilst driving. This makes the glass more flexible and more resistant to shattering if they’re struck by a sharp object.

Safety film is however not only a deterrent for criminals. Other benefits include:

  • It protects passengers from being hit by dangerous glass splinters when the glass breaks in side-impact accidents.
  • Windows film can reject up to 99% of the sun’s harmful UV rays, helping to protect you against skin cancer, and your car’s interior from fading and cracking.
  • Safety film forms an invisible shield to reduce glare and resultant eye fatigue.
  • The film also improves your comfort by keeping the vehicle interior cool and comfortable in the scorching heat, reducing the load on the air conditioning and thus saving fuel.

Keep in mind that some car insurance companies provide a discounted premium to vehicle owners installing window safety film on their vehicles.


The cautious driver will be able to prevent most incidents of smash-and-grab. If there is nothing to grab there is no reason for the window to be smashed! Trust your instincts. If you see suspicious activity, find somewhere else to park. We would like to urge motorists to report suspicious activity to the proper authorities – you can help prevent others from becoming a victim of a smash-and-grab or another crime!