Thursday, July 24, 2014

Over 3.3 million crimes occur every year but half of them go unreported, according to the latest South Africa Survey, published by the South African Institute of Race Relations. These figures include 82 000 unreported house robberies and 8 000 hijackings.

Statistics South Africa reports that in 2011, South African households and individuals experienced at least 3.3 million crimes. “That said, some 1.7 million, or 52% of total crimes were not reported to the police,” explains John October, spokesperson for Dial Direct Insurance.

The underreporting of crimes is known as The Iceberg Effect because although only some are visible above the surface, it does not mean that the rest of the crime does not exist.

“The reasons why people do not report crimes include victims believing that the police would fail to solve the crime; corruption; inappropriate police behaviour, fear of retribution and self-blame issues,” says October.

The report also concluded that only about 60% of housebreaking/burglary and home robbery incidents were reported to the police. The provinces where robberies were least likely to be reported were Eastern Cape (15%) and Northern Cape (21%) followed by Western Cape (28%) and Gauteng Province (34%).

Motor vehicle vandalism was primarily not reported because of the perceptions that the police could do nothing (24,5%), or that the crime as such was not serious enough (23,4%).

On the other hand, for housebreaking/burglary (20%) and theft from car (28,9%), households gave police-related issues as the reasons for failure to report the incident to the police.

In South Africa, it is important to get accurate statistics for crime so that it can be dealt with effectively and efficiently. Remember that if you report a crime, even one that didn’t happen directly to you but that you were a witness to, you are helping protect yourself and your community from future crime. Whenever you see something going on in the community that you think might be a crime, contact your local police as soon as you can or simply visit your nearest police station.

In addition, most insurance companies will only indemnify its customers if they report anything that is lost or stolen to the police, within 48 hours. In other words, for an insurance claim to be processed, the insurance company will need confirmation that the matter was reported to the SAPS.

October concludes, “As a citizen of this country you have an obligation to report any crimes that happen to you or any that you know about. That makes you part of the solution towards a safer and more law-abiding society.”

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