When the country's latest crime statistics were released recently, the question on everyone's lips was whether we were safer or not.
Unfortunately, we don't have the data to answer that question - not by a long shot. And it's time that changed. By Gareth Newham for AFRICA CHECK.
When Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa and National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS), Riah Phiyega, released the official crime statistics this week, the attention of most people was on the question: "Has crime gone up or down?" Of course, this question won't easily be answered, as statistics for around 30 crime categories were released, some of which show an increase and others a decrease.
What the statistics certainly don't tell us is whether we are facing any emerging threats on the streets, or in our homes and businesses at the current time. This is because the crime statistics were already completely out of date and are not relevant to the current situation.
The crime statistics released by the police were only relevant for the 2012/13 financial year, which ended six months ago (i.e. the period 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013.)
The absence of regularly available crime statistics...