Some illegal guns seized. The report says easy access to illicit weapons is one of the factors contributing to Cape Town's increased murder rate. Picture: Supplied/SAPS

Cape Town - Despite slower population growth, lower youth unemployment and better income figures, Cape Town still saw a 40% increase in murders and a rise in other crime in the past decade.

This is according to the latest State of Urban Safety report which said that easy access to guns, drugs and alcohol could be driving crime.

"Cape Town has double the murder rate of the other cities and has seen its murder rate rise since 2009/10, increasing by 40% between 2011/12 and 2015/16. Based on murder rates, the two most violent metros in South Africa are Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay, both of which have high levels of gang crimes," the report read.

The report also said that Mangaung is the only metro other than Cape Town to have seen an increase in the murder rate in the last decade. 

"Cape Town has a population that is growing more slowly than Johannesburg and Tshwane, and has the lowest level of poverty, as measured by the Human Development Index, the lowest income inequality, and the second lowest youth unemployment rate of all the cities. And yet Cape Town has extremely high levels of crime. So, what is driving crime? An answer may lie in the disproportionate access to alcohol, drugs and firearms, which is more than twice that of any other city."

The report also said that Cape Town has had the highest rate of crime detected through police actions, increasing steeply between 2005/06 and 2011/12, when it seemed to plateau. This increase was largely a result of the rise in drug-related crime.

A senior researcher at the Centre of Criminology at UCT, Simon Howell, said the easy access to guns added to crime, but said socio-economic factors were also a large contributor to high crime stats.

"With regard to firearms, a lot of the activity on the Cape Flats has been a result of weapons that came from (Christiaan) Prinsloo selling firearms to people, that provided more guns and high-calibre guns."

Howell was referring to a former senior police officer who was sentenced to 18 years behind bars after it was found in court last year that he had been selling guns to gangs on the Cape Flats.
"The city is designed to exclude many of the population to the economy... the best way to deal with the crime is to deal with the social phenomena creating it. People need to be given an alternative to dealing drugs and joining gangs."

Gun Free SA’s Claire Taylor said all guns came from legal sources and increasing incidents where children and innocent people are injured was an indication of how bad the situation was. 

"The issue is to track where it leaks from and the police have to take steps to cover the loopholes. These guns are increasingly being leaked and are being used against children and innocent people."

She said hospital and mortuary statistics backed up what was happening outside.

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Cape Argus