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SA radio station's rape stats factually incorrect

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Were 66,000 rapes reported to police in South Africa last year? And do the official numbers of reported rape cases show that someone is raped every four minutes?

The claims were made today on South Africa’s Talk Radio 702 as part of a “stop rape” campaign. Every four minutes from 6am to 6pm, the station will play a sound signifying a rape that has been committed.

“Basically it’s to remind us that every four minutes in South Africa somebody is raped,” talk show host John Robbie told listeners. “And that’s only the ones that are reported. It is mind blowing.”

A segment in a subsequent news bulletin stated that police statistics “show that 66,000 rapes were reported in SA in the last year”.

Both claims are factually incorrect.

South Africa’s official crime statistics show that 66,387 sexual offences - not 66,000 rapes, as claimed on Radio 702 - were reported in 2012/13.  The blanket category of “sexual offences” includes a broad range of crimes such as rape, compelled rape, sexual assault, child pornography, incest and flashing, among others.

According to Brigadier Seimela Nkoshilo, a statistician in the police’s research and statistics unit, 49,376 rapes were reported to police in 2012/13. (Note: The real number of rapes that are committed each year is likely to be significantly higher than the official police figures. Research has shown that in many instances, rapes are not reported to police.)

Radio 702’s campaign, according to Robbie, suggests that someone is raped every four minutes AND that they report the case to police. If that claim was correct it would mean that 131,400 rapes are reported to police every year. That simply isn’t the case.

South Africa is facing a horrific rape crisis. While Radio 702’s campaign is commendable and Robbie is correct in stating that the numbers are “mind-blowing”, it is important that South Africans are accurately informed about the facts and the available data. - 31/1/2014

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