Minister of Police Bheki Cele. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Parliament -  The Democratic Alliance on Thursday called for "extreme and immediate action" to protect South Africans from violent crime after the latest statistics released on Thursday showed the murder rate had increased by 3.4 percent.

"These statistics will only contribute to citizens losing faith in our criminal justice system, making them feel unsafe in their homes and communities. Extreme and immediate action needs to be taken in order to start keeping our citizens safe," DA MP Andrew Whitfield said.

The statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele include sexual offences increasing by 4.6 percent, with an average 113.9 rape cases being recorded daily. An average 57 people are murdered every day, with the Western Cape still recording the country's highest murder figures.

"The release of the annual crime statistics for 2018/2019 today is serious cause for alarm as it paints a bleak picture of chaos in the country’s front line law enforcement agency, which is losing the battle against crime."

Whitfield said the statistics poured cold water on President Cyril Ramaphosa's target of halving violent crime over a decade, and pointed to the South African Police Service being woefully unable to stem the country's levels of crime.

"Given poor resource allocation, corruption, poor training, a collapsed intelligence division, and a lack of leadership, it is difficult to believe that SAPS and the ANC government have what it takes to restore order and keep communities safe."

Whitfield said Cele and Ramaphosa needed to take full responsibility for the figures, which reflect crime up until the end of March, and warned that crime at this level undermined all efforts to shore up the economy by attracting more investment.

"SAPS needs a complete overhaul to root out corruption and incompetence in order to restore trust in the police. Only an honest and professional police service will keep our communities safe from violent crime. ... Police need to display extreme professionalism in dealing with victims of crime and we need higher police visibility in crime ridden areas."

African News Agency/ANA