Risenga Maluleke. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA
Risenga Maluleke. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA

SA women are the face of the country’s rising crime scourge, with those heading households most likely to have their homes attacked and destroyed.

Stats SA, in releasing its latest “Victims of Crime Survey” in Pretoria on Thursday, revealed a country with a population growing increasingly fearful of crime.

The statistics confirm the fears raised by gender activists and women’s groups in nationwide protests about abuse against women and gender-based violence (GBV), which took place in the past few weeks.

The survey saw 30,000 households from around the country questioned about their experience and perception of crime, with the 70% of those surveyed living in formal housing.

In releasing the findings, statistician-general Risenga Maluleke, said the data shows that there has not been a significant decrease in sexual assaults, with women-headed urban households more likely to be attacked, and 43% of women reporting feeling unsafe.

VAST MAJORITY OF WOMEN FEEL UNSAFE WALKING ALONE AT NIGHT IN THEIR NEIGHBOURHOODS

Of those whose houses were attacked, 35,414 were headed by women, compared to 34,481 men who had their homes damaged. The vast majority of women feel unsafe walking along at night in their neighbourhoods compared to men

The survey, Maluleke said, shows that there are “dramatic and significant increases” in numerous violent crimes, especially murder and assault, “which are in line with police crime statistics”.

He said the survey looked at, among other things, people’s perceptions on issues of safety and what households did to protect themselves, with those questioned asked about their experience of crimes affecting households and individuals.

People were questioned about whether their vehicles had been stolen, hijacked or broken into; whether their homes had been burgled, robbed, damaged or destroyed; if they had been physically or sexually assaulted; or if their loved ones and friends had been murdered.

Guns and knives were the predominant weapons used in house robberies

The data shows major increases were recorded in the destruction of homes, murders, hijackings, street robberies and theft of personal belongings.

The latest police crime stats, which were released in September, show that murders rose from 20,336 in the 2017/2018 financial year to 21,022 in the 2018/2019 period, with 41,583 rapes recorded among the 52,420 reported sexual offences, and 220,865 house burglaries recorded.