CASH-IN-TRANSIT heists and ATM attacks have decreased by 2,3percent and 10percent, respectively.

This according to crime statistics released by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa in Parliament yesterday.

"This is not much compared with the same period in the previous year. It is a decrease, nevertheless.

"To address this the department has focused considerable attention on cash-in-transit robberies. We are consulting with businesspeople about improvement of standards within the industry," Mthethwa said.

He said the police also had successes in the arrest of thugs and the foiling of such robberies.

"There is no doubt the improved standards, coupled with the proactive measures taken by the SAPS, have dealt a serious blow to cash-in-transit heist criminals. We believe the increase experienced since the end of the fiscal year is likely to start declining," he said.

Mthethwa said the "picture between January and September this year indicates that this 10percent decline has now risen to a 75percent decrease".

The statistics, however, further showed that:

l Sexual offences increased by 10,1percent.

l House robberies are up by a massive 27,3percent.

l Car and truck hijackings increased by 5percent and 15,4percent, respectively.

l Business robberies went up by 41,5percent.

l Murder dropped by 3,4percent.

l Bank robberies went down by 29percent.

l Street robberies decreased by about 8percent.

Between April last year and April this year, 2,1million crimes were committed. The National Prosecuting Authority is currently prosecuting only a million crimes.

Mthethwa hit out at the rate of house robberies.

"We simply cannot tolerate a situation where people do not feel safe in their homes," he said.

But South Africa's biggest victims of crime last year were township-based businesses and spaza shops.

Almost two-thirds of all murders happen between people who know each other, especially in poor communities, Mthethwa said.

"This is usually when people have too much to drink, love triangles and jealousy," crime information analyst Chris de Kock said.

Police Commissioner Bheki Cele hit out at the poor state of policing in rural areas, saying most people live over one hour's drive from a police station.