Crime rates South Africa 2022

crime rates south africa map image post

In the 1990s and 2000s, South Africa was a dangerous place to live. In recent years, the overall crime rate has come down. However, the country is not safe. Far from it. Thus, the need for businesses to work with a security company in South Africa remains high. 

In this post, we look at trends in South African crime rates in recent years, the type of crimes being committed in the country and which areas are most dangerous for setting up a business. 

Crime Trends In South Africa

South African authorities calculate the crime rate in the country by aggregating the following offence sub-categories: 

  • Unlawful homicides
  • Interpersonal violence
  • Violent conflicts
  • Intergang turf violence
  • Predatory violence and killing by armed groups

Notice that authorities only measure the most severe crime in South Africa. These overall crime rates do not include burglary, criminal damage, antisocial behaviour or many other measures of crime reported in the UK overall crime rate, and elsewhere. 

During the period up to 2019, there was a steady increase in the incidence of serious crime per 100,000 population, going up from 31.03 in 2010 to more than 36.42, an increase of more than 17 percent. However, following COVID-19 restrictions, the overall crime rate in the country fell considerably by -.8.11 percent to 33.46 crimes per 100,000 population. 

Globally, South Africa is the second-most dangerous place in the world for serious violent crime. Only Jamaica is higher, with a crime rate (by the above definition) of 44.95. For comparison, here are the crime rates for some other countries: 

  • Colombia – 22.64
  • Guyana – 19.96
  • Namibia – 11.92
  • Russia – 7.33
  • Turkey – 2.48
  • Fiji – 2.23
  • Bulgaria – 0.99

What Types Of Crime Are Committed In South Africa?

South Africa classifies crimes into “contact crimes”, and “property-related crimes.” 

Contact crimes include murder, sexual offenses, attempted murder, assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm, common assault, common robbery, and robbery with aggravating circumstances. All crimes are reported per 100,000 population, as above. 

From Aprile to June 2018, the murder rate stood at 8 per 100,000. However, that figure rose to more than 11 per 100,000 between April and June 2022. Rape remained constant over the period at 16 per 100,000, and attempted murder only increased slightly, from 8 per 100,000 to 9 per 100,000. 

Common robbery remains prevalent, but less so than before the pandemic. Official figures show that case rates declined from 22 per 100,000 in 2019 to just 17 per 100,000 in 2022. Common assault remained high (and roughly the same) from 62 per 100,000 in 2019 to 64 per 100,000 in 2022. 

South African authorities classify property-related crimes as any crime involving property that doesn’t include direct assault on a person. Offences in this category include arson, malicious damage to property, burglary at a non-residential premises, burglary at a residential premises, theft of motor vehicle and motorcycle, theft from a motor vehicle, and stock theft. 

South African police reported 14,677 burglaries from non-residential premises (i.e. businesses) from April to June 2022, an increase of approximately 0.3 percent over the previous year. However, total crimes in this category were down substantially from their April to June 2020 peak of 18,840. 

Stock theft was also down year-on-year by 4.5 per cent to 6456 reported crimes. For comparison, in 2020 the figure was 7,345, suggesting that South Africa is becoming a safer place to operate. 

South Africa also has a miscellaneous offence category called “other serious crimes.” Figures from 2022 show that there were more than 11,132 reported shoplifting crimes between April and June, down from a pre-pandemic peak during the same period in 2019 of 15,747. 

Overall, therefore, South Africa is becoming a slightly safer place for businesses to operate. However, the need for excellent security remains. 

Which Are The Most Dangerous Areas Of South Africa?

Crime rates vary substantially between South Africa’s regions. Many states use the muder ratio (the number of murders per 100,000 population) as a proxy for safety across. Here’s a list of the country’s main districts, ranked from most dangerous to least, according to this ratio:

  1. Eastern Cape – 18.0
  2. KwaZulu/Natal – 14.0
  3. Western Cape – 13.8’
  4. Gauteng – 9.3
  5. Free State – 8.3
  6. Mpumalanga – 6.5
  7. North West – 6.3
  8. Northern Cape – 6.2
  9. Limpopo – 3.7

Worryingly, murder ratios are increasing across South Africa. In all nine areas, they are higher in 2022 so far than they were in 2018. 

The good news for businesses, though, is the motivation for most South African crimes. Most crimes are crimes of passion (often resulting from road rage or arguments), not premeditated or well-planned. 

Non-residential burglary statistics vary wildly across states. Here’s a rundown using absolute numbers as of April to June 2022: 

  1. Gauteng – 1588
  2. KwaZulu/Natal – 959
  3. Eastern Cape – 633
  4. Mpumalanga – 522
  5. Limpopo – 520
  6. Western Cape – 437
  7. North West – 318
  8. Free State – 224
  9. Northern Cape – 80

Please note that these figures are absolute. They provide a sense of the extent of crime in the region but are not adjusted for the population. 

These figures do not reflect shoplifting. Shoplifting offences are considerably more common than non-residential burglary. For instance, police recorded more than 2,269 incidents of shoplifting in Western Cape, around five times more than the number of non-residential burglaries for the same period.

How To Protect Your Business

Crime in South Africa is exceptionally high. Therefore, businesses need to protect themselves. Both “contact” and “non-contact” crimes, including non-residential burglary, are ongoing problems for the authorities. 

We recommend using a security company in South Africa to keep you and your property safe. These provide both physical protection and discourage criminals from stealing from or damaging your property. 


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