SA's war on crime to be laid bare today

The Police Minister will release the annual crime statistics in Parliament at 10am today.

Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko releases the annual crime stats in Parliament today. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko releases the annual crime stats in Parliament today amid concerns that the figures are at least six months out of date.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) believes more up to date figures would be beneficial to helping combat crime and identify trends.

The stats released today are for offences committed between April 2014 and March 2015.

The DA's Zak Mbhele says up to date figures should be available at local police stations so that communities can be proactive in fighting crime.

"Residents through their civic associations would also then come up with their own proactive steps and measures they can take, to address those matters before they become too big."

For the past two years, the murder rate and the total number of murders have increased, while the only crime with 100 percent reporting rate in 2013-2014 was car hijacking.

The murder rate refers to murders per 100,000 of the population and is regarded as a benchmark indicator of a country's safety and security.

Crime stats released last year revealed a 3,5 percent increase in the murder rate.

CITIZEN'S GUIDE

The University of Cape Town's criminology department says the two key indicators to watch with the crime stats is the murder and armed robbery rates, which have seen worrying increases over the last few years.

Eyewitness News together with the university will today release the Citizen's Guide to the Crime Figures, which has tracked trends over the last two decades.

Housebreaking or burglary, followed by home robbery and then by street robbery, were rated as the most common and most feared crimes, with 41.3% of respondents nationally believing that violent crime had increased in their area of residence over the last three years.

The university's Mark Shaw says while murder has declined by half since 1994, it's changed trajectory in the last three years.

This means the average person in the country was less than half as likely to be murdered last year as they were 20 years ago.

At the same time, murder has dropped steadily from the fourth to the seventh rank for what respondents considered to be the most common crime.

"There's some relatively good news, the most important is in relation to murder and you can see very clearly that there's been since 1994 a relatively important decline."

Shaw says the guide attempts to simplify statistics.

"To make the point that we do need to look at these things over a relatively long period of time. And to empower citizens to understand what it might mean for them or for their community."

The figures are scheduled to be released at 10am this morning.