KZN is a bloody battle ground and SA’s most violent province - Crime Stats
By Tanya Waterworth, Frank Chemaly & Duncan Guy
KwaZulu-Natal is the most violent province in the country with the highest number of murders, while carjacking and residential robberies have increased with the majority of criminals being armed with guns.
This as the national crime statistics from April 2019 to March 2020 were released by Police Minister Bheki Cele yesterday - and crime spikes indicate these figures could get worse.
KZN recorded the most number of murders in the country with 4859, up 464 from last year or 10% and eclipsing Gauteng with 4555 murders.
In addition, KZN had the most number of cases where two people were murdered at the same time, at 129, and 12 cases involving three victims. Its worst case took place in Mariannhill when a domestic argument led to four deaths when family members were burned in the house.
Thirteen murders were politically motivated, 22 were as a result of faction fighting and 80 taxi-related deaths, 312 deaths resulted from mob violence and 336 attributed to retaliation or revenge.
Rape statistics were just as shocking when it came to KZN, with three of the province’s towns being placed in the top five spots. Inanda took the number one place with 297 cases, followed closely by uMlazi with 293 cases. The fourth spot went to Plessislaer (outside Pietermaritzburg) with 236 cases.
Cele described Inanda and uMlazi as “problematic areas” for both murder and rape. Nationally rape was up by 1.7% to 42289 cases.
While carjacking was up 13.3% nationally, carjacking in KZN was up by 10% with 3041 cases, up 277 from last year, with Inanda, uMlazi and Umbilo being the worst affected stations when it came to carjacking.
With carjacking, non-residential and residential robbery, the vast majority of cases were committed with a firearm. Knives also played a role, as did bodily threats.
Robbery at residential premises shot up by 9.4% in KZN with 4575 cases, with all other provinces seeing a hefty reduction in this category, barring Mpumalanga.
Pinetown and uMlazi were in the top 10 for residential robbery, while they also saw increases for non-residential robbery, as did Durban Central and Plessislaer.
Yesterday Blue Security operations director, Brian Jackson, said in the last two months there had been a spike in violent crimes such as hijacking and armed robbery.
“Crime trends show that criminals are targeting residential and business premises where residents are sometimes assaulted and injured.
“We have noticed a rise in large armed gangs - with up to 11 members - who hold up security guards to break into business premises, mainly at night and in the early hours of the morning,” said Jackson, adding that hijackings continued to remain a problem.
Umbilo Community Policing Forum (CPF), which includes Glenwood, Glenmore and Carrington Heights, spokesperson Heather Rorvik said home and business break-ins had increased.
“Now that everyone is moving around, crime has gone back to what it was before lockdown and criminals are not respecting the curfew,” she said, highlighting that much criminal activity took place between 3am and 6am.
“In the last two weeks there has been a noticeable increase in both house break-ins, home invasions and business break-ins.
“Remote jamming has also increased,” she said, adding that car batteries and gate batteries were also being stolen.
Jakes Singh of Chatsworth CPF said he was not surprised on hearing the KZN crime statistics, but focused on the present, saying motor vehicle theft and hijacking had increased recently.
He also said the theft of money earmarked for the fight against Covid-19 had made it difficult for community leaders to engage with communities.
Pastor Donny Anderson from the Wentworth and Merewent CPF said the major crimes reported in Wentworth were murders or attempted murders and were generally related to turf wars over drugs.
“Shootings have picked up tremendously in the last few weeks with a drive-by shooting just last night (Thursday).
“In Merebank, house robberies and hijackings remain a problem, although we do have neighbourhood watches now patrolling,” said Anderson.
In the Upper Highway area west of Durban, ProAct Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator, Andreas Mathios, said that since the lockdown, which was after the annual crime statistics timeframe, “neighbourhood watches in the Upper Highway area have experienced a virtual explosion of criminal activity in various areas as a result of a lot of the petty criminals moving into communities looking for small items that they can quickly steal, like gate batteries, which is now becoming a huge problem in the area,” said Mathios.
Meanwhile, opposition political parties voiced concern over the annual crime statistics, with IFP MP Zandile Majozi calling the reports “incomplete, unaudited and rushed”.
“It is unfortunate that South Africans continue to feel unsafe in their homes, on the streets and in their towns, cities and provinces.
“We cannot boost investor confidence, grow the economy and change the lives of the unemployed young people in our country when we live in fear of crime,” she said.
DA MP Andrew Whitfied highlighted that with an average of 58 murders and 115 rapes per day in South Africa “the crime stats once again indicate that the SAPS is losing the battle against most major crimes”.
The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said “targeted interventions are needed to reduce stubbornly high levels of murder and armed robbery”.
“Like most crimes, murder and armed robbery are not randomly distributed but have again been focused around known risk areas.
“That means police should have the ability to apply crime intelligence and analysis, evidence-based practices and targeted interventions to address these most serious crimes,” said the ISS’s Justice and Violence Prevention head, Gareth Newham.
The Independent on Saturday