Crime statistics on Thursday provide a sense of how South Africans are treating one another, how the police are doing and how business is faring.
Crime statistics for the year up to March released in Pretoria this week have shown increases in serious crimes, including murder, sexual crimes and robbery, although assault decreased in the country as a whole.
The number of reported murders increased by 4.2%, sexual crimes increased by 2.9%, and reports of attempted murder jumped by a tenth.
But a deeper analysis of the numbers tells a more nuanced story about South African society. How are we treating one another? Social-fabric crimes are by and large committed between people known to one another, often within homes, behind closed doors or in social settings. The vast majority are considered either extremely difficult or plain impossible to prevent through police action. That makes them a better measure of how people relate to one another socially than of how well the criminal justice sector is working.