Crime in South Africa is out of control, and the situation is aggravated by the very low conviction rate of serious crime in the country.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) recently released its crime stats for the 2018/19 period, which showed an increase in serious crimes like murder, robbery, and sexual offences.
So significant is the spike in crime in South Africa in recent years that local prisons have run out of space.
The Department of Correctional Services said there are 162,875 inmates in South African prisons, with only 118,572 beds to house them.
To resolve this problem, the Department of Correctional Services wants fewer criminals to be sent to jail.
The Police Service, however, does not support this plan and wants criminals to serve longer sentences.
The SAPS said poor conditions in South African jails can serve as a deterrent to criminals, and that more lenient sentences will make it even more challenging to fight crime in the country.
Very low conviction rate of criminals
One of the biggest problems facing the South African criminal justice system is the poor conviction rate of serious crimes.
According to Rapport, law enforcement in the country has basically collapsed, with conviction rates for serious crime as low as 2% in some cases.
The poor arrest and prosecution rate is particularly prevalent with serious crimes like highjackings, robberies, and murders.
According to the report, only 2.3% of 16,026 car hijackings made it to court and resulted in a guilty verdict.
The situation for house robberies was equally poor, where only 4.6% of criminals were arrested and successfully prosecuted.
The success rate for business robberies was even worse, with only 3.6% of the criminals landing up in court and only 3% of them ultimately being found guilty.
Only 20% of murderers in South Africa landed up in court, and only 9% of sexual offenders were successfully prosecuted.
Crime up, but court cases much lower
Rapport highlighted that while serious crime is increasing in South Africa, the number of cases which make it to court has seen a drastic decline.
Over the last financial year, the number of new cases which made it to prosecutors declined from 888,053 to 792,895.
Sloppy investigative work and poor prosecution were also at record highs, which resulted in over 100,000 cases having to be withdrawn.
The courts are also chaotic, with 14% fewer court cases being completed and criminal courts only sitting for around three hours per day.