The number of of murders in South Africa has risen by an alarming 77% since the 2011/2012 period.
This is according to statistics released by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) at a briefing on Tuesday. The stats showed that murders increased from 15 554 incidents in 2011/2012 to 27 494 in 2022 /2023.
The ISS stats further revealed that four provinces – the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng – recorded the highest number of murders in the country.
David Bruce, an independent researcher on policing and consultant to the ISS, said from 1994/1995 to 2011/2012 the murder rate fell by more than 57%.
“This is equivalent to the per-capita murder rate decreasing from 69 per 100 000 to 29.5 per 100 000. Since then the rate has increased every year except for 2020/2021. The per-capita murder rate increased to 45 per 100 000 in 2022/2023, 52.5% higher than in 2011/2012.”
Bruce added that the age profiles of murder victims in 2017 indicated that most victims were men.
“There were 18 980 murders in South Africa in 2017 of which 12 593 or 89% were male victims and between the ages of 20 and 39. The next highest number of murder victims were over the age of 40 (4 666 murders) and here again 81% of the victims were males.”
Bruce added that the Eastern Cape has had one of the highest murder rates in South Africa for years.
“Eastern Cape has recorded 5 150 murders; however, their per-capita murder rate is 71 per 100 000 in 2022/2023, which is more than any other province in the country. Although a majority of the increase in murders have been linked to guns, it is less prominent in the Eastern Cape. Reasons for murders have included disputes, vigilantism, robberies and lastly gang-related murders.”
Bruce said KZN and the Western Cape have the joint second-highest per capita murder rate at 56 per 100 000.
“In KZN, eThekwini accounts for nearly half of the murders in the province (43%) . Political killings and assassinations linked to the taxi industry are more strongly associated with KZN than any other province. The province also has a high proportion of multiple murders and killings of police.
“In the Western Cape, Cape Town accounts for 78% of murders in the province; police data indicates most murders in Western Cape were gang-related.”
Bruce added that Gauteng has the fourth highest per-capita murder rate, 42 per 100 000.
He added that Gauteng for the longest period has been known as the aggravated robbery capital of South Africa.
In 2021/2022 statistics for aggravated robbery in Gauteng accounted for 52% of carjackings, 34% of residential robberies, 32% of business robberies and 37% of aggravated robberies overall in the country.
“Data released during that year also indicates that illegal mining accounts for 2% of murders in the province.”
Bruce said murder can only be addressed if it is elevated to public concern. “It requires giving priority to the value of lives of people in South Africa irrespective of identity. It requires coherent and consistent leadership from the government in setting priorities for police and the criminal justice system.
“Efforts to strengthen the police and criminal justice system must be combined with other initiatives aimed at reducing violence.”
Ziyanda Stuurman, policing expert and author of Can We Be Safe? The Future of Policing in South Africa, said “we are not doing enough to keep up with organised crime”.
“Organised crime is not in one city, it’s all over. Leaders in these gangs are sharing information, equipment and hit men.”
Stuurman added that another problem was the ease of access to illegal guns.
“A recent study has indicated that there are over 2 million illegal guns circulating in South Africa. Guns that are flowing in South Africa are also circulating outside the border into Mozambique and Zimbabwe and they are being used for murders in illegal mining and kidnappings. The more guns are accessible, it leads to situations that should be less violent becoming deadly.”