There was a 6.9% increase in murder over the 2017/2018 period, according to the latest crime stats. An estimated 20,336 people were killed during the period, 1,320 more than the previous year, and 40,035 were raped.
Presenting the statistics, police minister Bheki Cele admitted that he himself was shocked by them. He said they are “nothing to write home about,” adding that rather than dwelling on the stats themselves the “emphasis is on what’s to be done.”
Cele said that according to the stats, 57 South Africans were murdered every day. He said that South Africa is close to a “war zone” and also admitted that the SAPS had “dropped the ball” for things to get to that level.
The minister of police expressed shock, saying that “never again” should such a high crime rate be recorded and noted the fear and stress that South Africans live under.
It was then up to the head of police crime research and statistics Norman Sekhukhune to go through the numbers, which cover the period from April 1 2017 to March 31 2018. He says that in total over two million counts of serious crime were reported during the period.
According to Sekhukhune, 79.3% of crimes in the 2017/2018 period were reported by the community, with the remainder brought to light as a result of police work.
Cash-in-transit heists, a common occurrence currently, have unsurprisingly increased from 137 cases in the 2015/2016 period to 238 in the past year. Bank robberies and truck hijackings are also on the rise.
As well as murder, sexual offences and attempted murder have increased. Assault and common robbery have lessened over the period.
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Gauteng is the province in which the most crimes were reported over the period.
Sekhukhune reported a worrying trend in the form of multiple murders in areas such as the Western Cape where gang violence is rife. A total of 808 gang-related crimes were reported in the Western Cape over the period, with 87 having taken place in the Eastern Cape.
While the Western Cape is the worst province in terms of gang-related murders, Gauteng has the most taxi-related murders as well as the most mob justice.
According to Sekhukhune, 2017/2108 saw 62 farm murders take place, with Gauteng (12) followed by the North West (9) and Limpopo (9) and then Free State (8) and Mpumalanga (8) as the provinces worst affected.
Murders of women and children have tragically increased. 291 more women, 117 more boys and 29 more girls were killed in the period than the previous year.
Sekhukhune also noted that police killings contributed to the murder statistics.
Firearms are the weapons most used to commit murder, accounting for half the death toll.
Cele’s shock was shared by police committee chair Francois Beukman.
“What is quite important to note is that the murder increase of 6.9% is really alarming and totally unacceptable,” he said, adding that “violent crime is indeed a clear and present danger to all South Africans.”
According to Beukman, “a clear and strategic response” is needed.