Cape Town - South Africa’s murder rate has dropped by more than 50 percent in less than two decades.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said this showed the country was “moving up the safety ladder.”
A report on the UN Global Study on Homicide last year said southern Africa had one of the highest murder rates in the world, but that South Africa’s murder rate had decreased steadily.
In 1995 the murder rate had been 64.5 per 100 000 of the population and by 2012 this had dropped to 31 per 100 000.
The report mentioned South Africa as one of the countries that “are managing to break their own cycle of violence”.
“The report shows we are moving up the safety ladder, which is confirmation that our hard work is paying off,” Mthethwa said on Sunday.
“South Africa now has a murder rate two thirds below Honduras, the murder capital of the world, and is improving every year,” he said.
The report said the murder rate in Honduras in 2012 was 90.4 per 100 000 people.
Mthethwa said the situation in South Africa could be further improved.
“Reducing the murder rate is a priority because every South African wants our country to be a peaceful place where violence is taboo,” he said.
On Sunday, David Bruce, a freelance researcher specialising in policing and crime, said it appeared the country had become a “more socially stable society”.
He said political violence had never been the primary contributor when it came to the overall murder toll, and the main contributor was usually violence arising from disputes and linked to alcohol use.
Bruce said firearms had previously resulted in the majority of murders, but since the Firearms Control Act was passed in 2000, this had changed.
“Knives seem to have taken over from guns,” he said.
Previously, Chandre Gould, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, had told the Cape Times that it appeared crime figures were stabilising following the end of apartheid, a volatile political period, when figures had initially increased.
She said that crime trends in other countries which had also experienced big political changes showed similar patterns.
In a paper entitled Have No Doubt it is Fear in the Land: An exploration of the continuing cycles of Violence in South Africa, Brandon Hamber, director of the International Conflict Research Institute, said the 1980s was the most violent decade in the history of the country.
“This period was characterised by the extensive use of force by the South African state and those opposing it,” he said.