Police Minister General Bheki Cele, in a press conference held today, released the crime statistics for the first quarter of the 2023/2024 financial year.
The data, which covers April to June 2023, offers a glimpse into the state of crime in South Africa.
Seven Key aspects
1. For the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, the country has witnessed a decline in the murder rate. Concerning, however, was that 31 police officers were killed in the line of fire this past quarter.
2. A total of 6,228 murders were reported, marking a decrease of 196 compared to the same period last year. Notably, 1,188 of these victims were women and children.
3. The provinces of Limpopo and North West recorded significant declines in murders, with drops of 10.0% and 11.5% respectively. However, the Northern Cape saw an 11.1% increase.
4. Firearms, knives, and sharp instruments remain the top weapons used in murders. Most victims were killed during arguments, acts of vigilantism, or robberies.
5. Sexual offences decreased by 1.9%, with both rape and sexual assault counts dropping by 2.8% and 3.8%, respectively.
6. Property-related crimes saw a 4.5% decline, with significant reductions in burglaries, both residential and non-residential, and thefts.
7. Carjackings and robberies at non-residential areas decreased, but home robberies remain a concern.
Cele emphasised that these declines are a result of strategic and aggressive policing efforts, particularly through Operation Shanela launched in May 2023.
The operation has so far arrested 99,754 suspects for various crimes.
However, the fight against crime has come at a cost.
A concerning 31 police officers were killed in the line of duty within the three months. The Directorate has been actively pursuing and arresting those targeting police officers, resulting in significant sentences for convicted police killers.
While the statistics show a positive trend in the fight against crime, Cele stressed that there's more work to be done, especially in protecting women, children, and police officers.
He said the government continues to work towards safer streets and communities, emphasising that crime-fighting is a collective responsibility.