Thursday, September 22, 2005


Big news of the day is that crime has gone down, a report called Crime Situation in South Africa, Crime Trends between 2001/02 and 2004/05 indicates that some crimes have gone down, except for the ones that have gone up.

I thought I’d try out this sweet new newspaper called Nova, because I think it really takes balls to start a newspaper in this environment. In an article on tabloids in the Sunday Times Lifestyle section Mike Nicol quotes Deon du Plessis, the man behind the Daily Sun as saying Nova is for the “Smiths, van Tonder’s and Tshabalalas who have recently moved into Gauteng’s new townhouse suburbs”. It’s a newspaper with a “magazine element”, nice paper, bold type, lots of little stories for those with attention deficit disorder. It’s like the Net on paper, but you can’t click through. Once I’d got past the front page poppie, who was fully clothed indicating that Nova doesn’t intend to be one of THOSE tabloids, I found the crime stats all neatly listing what’s up and what’s down.

Some of it is weirdly contradictory, kidnapping is down 46,6% but abduction up 47,7%, rape down 5,2%, indecent assault up by 21,3%, murder down 24,4% and oddly enough cash-in-transits, which is not the perception you get when you read about the latest spectacular shootout.

The problem with this way of looking at figures is that without the raw data, you lose the detail. For example the actual figure for burglary, divided into business and residential, is 120,3 business-break ins per 100 000 population, but when it comes to residential burglaries, you can see who bears the burden of crime in this country, in 2002 it was 704, it is now just under 600 per 100 000 people. Since there are 44,8 million of us, new appliances must be a full- on growth industry.

The stats aren’t good for South African children, neglect and ill-treatment are up 165,5% and 200% in KwaZulu Natal, common assault up 15,4% and public violence up 39,3%, but you’re less likely to have something stolen out of your car than you would have in 2001.

Interesting too to look at the naughty things the various provinces get up to, cash-in-transits in Limpopo went up 100%, drunk driving went up big time in KwaZulu Natal, and the Western Cape is definitely the place for drug-related crime.

Luckily for newspapers, bloggers and satirists, crimen injuria is down a whole 6,1%.

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