South African men, women and children face frightening levels of violent crime.

This emerges from data collated in the 2020 edition of South Africa Survey, published by the Institute of Race Relations (IRR).

Data on contact crimes involving men, women and children show that

  • 17 251 of the 21 036 murders in 2019 were male victims;
  • Sexual offences against women accounted for 69% (36 597) of the total; and
  • Children were victims in 46% (24 387) of sexual offences.

Crimes against women and men

While violent crimes against women and children are committed predominantly by men, male victims account for a high proportion of violent crime. Women and children are often the victims of violence perpetrated by people in their intimate circle, and, overwhelmingly, by men they know.

The survey shows that men account for the highest number of violent crimes – murder or crimes causing serious injury – involving weapons. Men account for 63.8% of all serious assault cases, followed by women (31.6%) and children (4.6%).

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The data that shows violent crimes against men and women are often not reported to the police.

Although the figures show that contact crimes (also known as a crime against the person) have decreased from 1 720 a day in 1994/95 to 1 691 in 2018/19, levels of violent crime remain high for all South Africans.

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