Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

RESIDENTS of Cape Town are more likely to be victims of crime than those in Johannesburg, as the crime level in Johannesburg is roughly 10% lower than in the Mother City, according to global analytics company IHS’s crime index.

IHS said on Wednesday that violent crime in the country had reached its lowest levels in more than a decade, declining about 40% since a 2002 peak.

The crime index results for the third quarter indicate that a trend of decreasing crime rates has continued since the 2012-13 financial year, with crime now at its lowest level in 15 years.

But local analysts are not convinced of the decreasing trend.

However, IHS senior analyst David Wilson said on Wednesday the index was compiled by analysing all crimes for the size of the population in each area, and then weighting crime categories according to the seriousness of each offence.

The index uses data supplied by the South African Police Service (SAPS).

Finally, crimes are combined into a single index figure, which is useful for comparisons over time and across regions. The completed IHS crime index makes the analysis of the crime trends possible, Mr Wilson said in a statement.

The IHS index also show the Tshwane metropolitan area is the safest in the country, with the Mangaung metro in the Free State being fingered as the most dangerous. The index’s rating indicates that Mangaung is also 70% more dangerous than the national average.

The Western Cape was the province that had the municipality with the highest "consistent level of crime", with Beaufort West residents experiencing crime at a rate nine times higher than that in the safest municipality, the Blouberg local municipality in Limpopo.

The index also rated property crime, with IHS saying on Wednesday that property crime across the country has experienced a decrease of 24% from 2002.

Official crime statistics were released last month by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, indicating that over the past nine years crime has declined.

Property crime saw a reduction of 24.8% over the nine years, and 1.4% over the past four years, while common assault reduced by 45.4% over the nine years and 16.5% during the past four years. Murder declined by 27%.

The presentation of the results has, however, been questioned, including by the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), which maintains that the crime statistics fail to take into account more accurate population estimates for the 2011-12 period made available by the release of census data from Statistics South Africa.

"The 2011 census found that the population growth had been higher than estimated in 2001. As a result, the total population in South Africa would have to be revised for each previous year to give accurate annual population figures," the ISS said last month. "By comparing crime rates for 2011-12 and 2012-13 without updating the population estimated for 2011-12, the SAPS was not comparing apples with apples."

South African Institute of Race Relations researcher Kerwin Lebone said on Wednesday the institute ’s latest analysis agreed that all serious crimes peaked in 2002-03, but "in fact murder rates have not reached the levels they touched in 1994-95, when the (Crime Administration System) was first put in place".