Durban - On average, someone is murdered almost every two hours in KwaZulu-Natal.

On Tuesday, the SAPS released its crime statistics for the 2016/2017 financial year - spanning from last April to this March - and they revealed that 4014 people were murdered in the province during that period.

This equated to almost 11 people a day and was the second-highest number recorded in South Africa, after 4 101 in Gauteng.

Three of our police stations - Inanda, uMlazi and KwaMashu E - were ranked among the 10 with the heaviest murder case loads in the country.

On the whole, crime was down in KZN and the number of incidents reported in the province had decreased.

But murder was up, as was robbery with aggravating circumstances.

“Trio crimes” - hijackings, residential robberies and business robberies - have increased.

Pinetown was among the four police stations that recorded the highest number of hijacking cases in the country.

Hijackings were up by an alarming 21.5%, from 2493 cases in 2015/2016 to 3029 in 2016/2017.

The spike in hijackings was the second-highest increase after that of Mpumalanga, where cases shot up by as much as 28.8%.

However, that province only recorded 810 hijacking cases.

In terms of sexual offences, the most number of rape cases reported in the country were at Inanda and uMlazi police stations.

They also recorded the highest number of sexual offences overall, after Nyanga in the Western Cape.

Acting Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba on Tuesday told Parliament that some murders could be attributed to mob violence, vigilantism and taxi violence, adding that hostel violence was also a factor.

Mothiba also said the abuse of alcohol and drugs was a generator of violent crime in the country, and particularly in KZN.

“The province reported that 41 murders were reported on Christmas Day 2016 and a further 47 murders were reported on New Year’s Day,” he said.

Of hijackings, Mothiba said in 2016/2017, they had reached the highest levels in a decade, with increases in six provinces.

Dr Johan Burger, an analyst for the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said KZN was “more or less representative of the country”.

Murder was up nationally, as were trio crimes and carjackings.

Burger said the situation was “extremely serious”.

He said our crime statistics had been moving in the right direction until 2011/ 2012.

“These types of crimes were actually going down,” he said, “But then something changed.”

He said since 2011/2012, the numbers had been spiralling and that comparing figures year-on-year, did not necessarily illustrate that.

“Nationally, we’ve seen around a 22.3% increase in murder over the last five years,” he said.

“And we’ve seen around a 77% increase in hijackings over that period.”

Burger said the ISS speculated that part of the problem was the instability within the police leadership.

“Most of this instability is caused by political interference and we believe it’s this political interference that is rendering our police less than effective,” Burger said.

“We, in conjunction with Corruption Watch, have launched a project - ‘The Leadership Project’ - aimed at establishing a more transparent process for appointing key leaders and getting rid of political interference.”

He said if the situation was allowed to continue, things would only get worse.

“Instability at a leadership level causes instability at other levels. It’s bad for police morale,” he said.

“If you continue to weaken the police, you will continue to see the kind of results we are seeing now in our crime statistics.”

The former head of the SAPS specialised Investigative Psychology Section, Professor Gérard Labuschagne, said the problem was - in part, at least - because many of the crimes that were on the rise were dealt with by specialised units until 2006, when the SAPS shut them down.

“Now they’re dealt with by station detectives we don’t have specialised groups working on a murder, we have one individual doing it,” he said. “And he’s usually extremely overloaded with 20 to 30 other cases.”

Labuschagne said after the specialised units were done away with, the SAPS tried introducing various other units to take over some of the workload.

“But the problem with all these changes is the lack of continuity,” he said.

The Acting Provincial Commissioner in KZN, Major General Bheki Langa, acknowledged that “more needs to be done to ensure that people are safe, especially with murders and aggravated robberies that have increased”.

“The establishment of the trio crimes task team earlier this year is paying off as police, business, other stakeholders and policing agencies work together to tackle the challenge of aggravated robberies,” he said.

The Mercury