Residents of Gauteng living in Brakpan, Germiston, Pretoria, Randburg, Roodepoort and Vereeniging ran the greatest risk of becoming victims of any type of crime, while those living or working in the Boksburg, Heidelberg, Oberholzer, Vanderbijlpark and Westonaria districts were least at risk. These facts have emerged from a picture of the distribution of crime in Gauteng as provided in South Africa's magnifying glass: A profile of Gauteng province.
This report – the most comprehensive ever of Gauteng – has just been published by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) and provides an in-depth and balanced perspective of all the main social, economic and spatial development components of the province.
"The HSRC hopes that this report will contribute to informed decision making, based on a better understanding of Gauteng's internal socio-economic dynamics, patterns and future prospects", Dr Pieter Kok, chief research specialist and editor of the report, said.
Because the report is mainly intended to meet the needs of policy makers and planners in the Gauteng province, specifically within provincial and local government, the new local authority demarcations have been used as the basic units for spatial analysis. Data from the 1991 Population Census Data form the basis of this report.
The contribution on Gauteng's crime profile contains police-recorded crime statistics for 1993 that are presented in the form of GIS-generated maps depicting each magisterial district. Crime statistics are expressed as a rate – usually per 100 000 of the population – in order that meaningful comparisons can be made. The population figure for each magisterial district was then used to calculate rates.
According to the report Gauteng has the highest rate of serious crime in the country. A total of 593 789 crimes were reported to police in Gauteng in 1993 and constituted 32% of the total number of crimes reported in South Africa.
No fewer than 78% of all car highjackings and 71% of all truck highjackings that occurred in South Africa in 1994 took place in Gauteng. Between 1993 and 1994 vehicle highjackings increased by 30%, and this figure again increased by some 6% from 1994 to the first half of 1995.
In Gauteng the total crime rate varied considerably across magisterial districts from a low of 3 146 for Boksburg to a high of 19 805 for Germiston.
"The fact that Germiston, with the highest ratio, is situated next to Boksburg, with the lowest ratio, should be of extreme significance to law enforcers, crime prevention experts and other interested parties, since the two areas would provide an ideal case study for investigating the factors associated with crime", the report states.
The distribution of the six most serious types of crime – murder, rape, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, housebreaking, and motor vehicle theft – was found to be as follows:
Murder: The murder rate was extremely high in Alberton (449) and nearly three times higher than that recorded in Vereeniging, the district with the second highest rate (167). On the other side of the spectrum were the districts of Pretoria and Cullinan that recorded a relatively low murder rate (28 in both places).
Rape: In the district of Vereeniging an average of four out of every 1 000 women were the victims of a rape during 1993. Soshanguve and Wonderboom also had a high rape rate, while Westonaria and Vanderbijlpark recorded comparatively low rates of rape. These figures however refer to the reported cases of rape only, and it should be noted that of all types of crime, rape data is the most affected by non-reporting.
Aggravated robbery: The distribution of aggravated robbery is virtually identical to that of murder. This suggests that the dynamics and factors associated with these two types of crime are probably similar. The rate of aggravated robbery was the highest in the Johannesburg magisterial district where, on average, eight out of every 1 000 people residing or working in that area fell victim to this type of crime in 1993. Alberton, Germiston and Vereeniging also recorded very high rates of aggravated robbery, while this figure was lowest in Westonaria. This means that someone living or working in Johannesburg, for example, ran a ten times higher risk of being violently robbed than someone living in Westonaria.
Aggravated assault: The rate of aggravated assault was found to range from a high of 810 in the case of Vereeniging to a low of 184 for Vanderbijlpark.
Residential burglary: Housebreaking had the highest occurrence in Randburg (2 536), followed by Germiston (2 384), Roodepoort (2 037), Vereeniging (1 681) and Pretoria (1 265). Districts with a relatively low rate of housebreaking were Oberholzer (365) and Westonaria (387). Randburg residents had a seven times greater chance of being burgled than residents in the Oberholzer district.
Motor vehicle theft: Vehicle theft was highest in the Germiston magisterial district (1 997 cases), followed by Roodepoort (1 272), Randburg (1 250), Johannesburg (963), Pretoria (855), Kempton Park (610) and Springs (601). Lowest figures were recorded in Westonaria (151), Heidelberg (153) and Boksburg (154).
While crime remains at a high level, violent events (political protests involving physical attacks) declined from 361 in 1994 to 100 in 1995. Peaceful protests, on the other hand, increased from 49 in 1994 to 137 in 1995. According to the report "this is a good sign for the state of civil society in Gauteng because peaceful protest strengthens democracy".
The report recommends that crime prevention security strategies be tailored to match each area, since the 'face' of crime differs considerably from one area to the next. Furthermore, certain sectors of the economy, such as the tourist industry and the private security industry, could benefit greatly from examining the distribution of crimes (such as motor vehicle theft and burglary) in order to adjust premiums.
An in-depth analysis of crime trends can also assist different sectors of the economy to apply their resources in the most effective manner so as to reduce the impact of crime on the economy as well as on the quality of life of ordinary citizens, the report states.