South African Murders Increase to Highest Level in a Decade

(Bloomberg) -- The number of murders in South Africa climbed to the highest level in at least a decade as an overburdened police force struggled to keep violent crime in check.

The number of homicides rose by 3.4% to 21,022 in the 12 months through March -- an average of almost 58 a day -- the police service said in its annual crime statistics report released in parliament in Cape Town on Thursday. The murder rate rose to 36.4 per 100,000 people, from 35.4 in the previous year. The rate is more than six times higher than that of the U.S.

South African Murders Increase to Highest Level in a Decade

“Our crime stats are not very rosy,” Police Minister Bheki Cele told lawmakers. “There are a very high number of people who are murdered by people they know. It would be very difficult for police to police such cases.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa has made combating crime a top priority since taking office in February last year. His efforts have been set back over recent weeks by an outbreak of xenophobic violence that claimed at least 12 lives and a series of fatal attacks on women that have sparked street protests.

South Africa’s murder rate was 35.2 per 100,000 in 2017-18 and has fallen from 67.9 per 100,000 people in 1995, when an integrated national police force was created and national statistics were compiled for the first time. It has been on the rise since 2011.

South African Murders Increase to Highest Level in a Decade

Changes to law-enforcement agencies’ top management during former President Jacob Zuma’s almost nine-year tenure hampered efforts to fight crime. Violent crime was fueled by widespread alcohol and drug abuse, the police said.

Key Statistics:

  • The number of sexual offenses rose 4.6% to 52,420, while the number of attempted murder cases increased 4.1% to 18,980, the police report showed
  • Incidents of truck-jacking fell by 1.7%, while car-jackings declined 1.8%
  • Commercial crimes surged 14%
  • There were four bank robberies during the year under review, down from 13 the year before.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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