On average 51 people are murdered in South Africa each day, according to the 2015/16 crime statistics released in parliament yesterday. The yearly statistics reveal that while there has been a general decline in crimes reported, crimes such as murder, attempted murder and robbery with aggravated circumstances, among others, are on the rise.
“What we can say about South Africans is that we are violent … we have a culture of violence,” Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said yesterday. In the previous year, murders increased by 4.9%, from 17 805 in 2014/15 to 18 673; meaning a body count increase of 868.
Nhleko said the majority of offenders (61%) were unemployed at the time, and 7.4% were students. In majority of the cases, the murder weapon of choice was a knife, followed by a gun, with the exception of Gauteng and Western Cape, where a gun was preferred.
Nhleko said about 30% of those arrested for murder had already spent time in jail for other crimes, ranging from assault to drug possession and armed robbery. He dismissed the suggestion that correctional services could be blamed. “It has everything to do with the societal outlook,” he said, adding that an offender’s reintegration back into the community played a key role.
While the Western Cape had the lowest recorded increase (1.2%), it still ranked the fourth highest contributor to the total number of murders reported in the country. Nhleko also revealed that multiple murders accounted for 3.5% of all murder counts. This was attributed to domestic violence and vigilantism and mob justice.
Across the provinces, more people are murdered in KwaZulu-Natal (3 929), followed by Gauteng (3 842). And while attempted murder was also on the rise (3.4%), reports of sex related crimes was on the decline (3.2%).
This is cold comfort, however, as it is estimated from the statistics that 114 people are raped each day, adding up to 41 516 in the last year. During a media briefing later yesterday, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies Chandre Gould suggested the number was much higher than 114 rapes a day.
She said considering that only one in nine rapes was reported, the country was sitting with a daily average of more than 1 000. Like other contact crimes, alcohol tends to be a common thread. “Research conducted in KwaZulu-Natal found that in 25% of rape cases the use of alcohol by the offender was mentioned. It was further noted that victims were often targeted along roads after departing from taverns or bars to their residences,” Nhleko said.
A large number of assaults, including those with serious intent to do grievous bodily harm, also took place at bars, shebeens and taverns. But simply shutting down drinking holes and increasing visibility was not an answer, Nhleko said. “It should be seen as an ideological challenge.
The reason why I don’t drink is not because a policeman told me not to. The reason why I don’t take cocaine and mandrax is the same,” Nhleko said. The stats also revealed that one of South Africa’s most feared crime – house robbery – has also increased by 2.7%.
In the last year, 20 820 people were robbed at home. This was up by about 600 from the previous year. A number of murders, attempted murders and sexual offences occurred during that time.
Another concern, which sparks fear among motorists, is hijacking – and the bad news is that the incidence of this particular crime has gone up by 14%. In 2015/16, 14 602 motorists were hijacked, the majority (7 367) of whom were driving in Gauteng.