While the latest stats showed a decrease in some serious crime categories in KwaZulu-Natal, crime experts and political organisations have questioned whether this was the reality on the ground.
The quarter three crime statistics for 2023/24 were released by Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday.
Compared to the same period last year, July to September, the murder rate in the province dropped by 13% from 1857 to 1603, while house robbery dropped by 9.4% from 1513 to 1371.
In his speech, Cele said it was encouraging that KZN reported a double-digit percentage decrease in murders. He said crime stats were used to redirect resources to where they were needed most.
“This redirection of resources is clearly demonstrated through the decline of certain crime categories in the top four crime-heavy provinces, namely KZN, the Western Cape, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape.”
However, policing consultant with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), David Bruce, said the quarterly statistics only represented a short-term trend.
Bruce said while the almost 14% drop in murder was encouraging, it was unclear whether it represented a major shift in murder trends in the province.
Murder in KZN has been escalating dramatically over the past few years, he said.
The statistics for the first six months of the 2023/24 financial year show that the number of murders in the province in this period (3187), is slightly lower than it was in the same period last year (3480) but slightly higher than it was in the same period in 2021 (3148).
“KwaZulu-Natal therefore continues to have one of the highest rates of murder in the country,” said Bruce.
The stats also revealed that the number of rape cases for the same period rose by 4% from 2045 to 2127.
Inanda police station continued to record the most rapes in the country with uMlazi in third position, while uMlazi had the second highest number of murders followed by Inanda.
Chad Thomas, from IRS Forensic Investigations South Africa, said murders remained at a 10-year high with around 45 murders per 100000 of the population.
“Reported cases of rape are more than 10000 in the 90 days of statistics released, and we know that multiple rapes and sexual assaults go unreported,” he said.
Thomas said these decreases in crime were not enough, adding that murder, rape and GBV had to be effectively dealt with.
“This can only be done by increasing the investigation capacity of the SAPS, who are currently short in excess of 8000 detectives, and ensuring that the National Prosecuting Authority has sufficient and experienced prosecutors.”
Reports that the NPA's budget may be cut does not bode well for victims of crime, he warned.
Sharon Hoosen, DA KZN spokesperson on community safety and liaison, said what the crime stats showed was that whether the people of KZN were at home, at work or even at learning or religious institutions, they were not safe.
With regard to the 4% increase in rape, Hoosen said of particular concern was that almost half of all rapes were committed by perpetrators known to the victims.
IFP spokesperson on police Zandile Majozi said the party underscored the need for a comprehensive approach to address the root causes of violence.
“The IFP calls for sustained efforts and collaborative initiatives to create safer communities.
“The party remains committed to working towards a society where every individual, especially women and children, can live free from the threat of violence,” said Majozi.