A typical murder in Joburg was sparked by an argument and ended with someone being shot dead with a firearm
By Shaun Smillie and Siyabonga Mkhwanazi
Johannesburg - Over the last year a typical murder in Joburg was sparked by an argument with the weapon of choice being a firearm. There was also a good chance that the victim knew their killer.
SA’s 2019/20 police crime statistics provided a snapshot of a murder in Gauteng and it revealed that bullets are still accounting for most killings - at least one in three - and that the murder rate continues on its nine-year upward trajectory.
Between April 2019 and March 2020, 4 555 people were murdered in Gauteng, an increase of 60 over the previous year.
Back in 2011/2012 Gauteng had 2 995 murders. The rest of the country didn’t fare any better; there were 21 325 murders. This was a 1,4% increase from 2018/2019.
But Minister of Police Bheki Cele did see positive trends in these statistics. “Fellow South Africans the crime statistics for 2019/2020 reflects the slowing down of the increase in violent crimes,” he said, during the release of the statistics, yesterday.
In fact, Institute of Security Studies (ISS) researcher Andrew Faull pointed out that if South Africa’s population growth was taken into consideration, the murder rate would have been closer to zero. He said this was a possible sign that certain crime fighting initiatives were bearing fruit.
“What could be impacting those crime rates is the cleaning up of the Hawks, the attempts to sort out crime intelligence are positive and in some areas police are making an effort to focus resources.”
Domestic violence, however, remains a concern, with the ISS pointing out that it accounted for 16% of all murders where a motive had been identified.
Nationally, vigilantism accounted for 13% of murders, armed robberies for 11%, and gang-related violence for 905 killings.
Other violent crimes have also shown year on year increases. Gauteng saw a 4.1% rise in attempted murders and a 1.1% increase in rape. Car hijackings rose by 16.1%.
There were other violent crimes that experienced decreases when compared to last year. House robberies in Gauteng fell by 11% and there wasn’t a single bank robbery recorded in 2019/2020.
There wasn’t an increase in cash in transit robberies either. The ISS justice and violence prevention head Gareth Newham said because most crimes are committed in known hotspots, police can use this to their advantage. “Like most crimes, murder and armed robbery are not randomly distributed but have again been focused around known risk areas,” he said, in a statement.
“That means police should have the ability to apply crime intelligence and analysis, evidence-based practices and targeted interventions to address these most serious crimes.”
But addressing South Africa’s high murder rate also comes down to effectively dealing with gun crime.
According to the crime statistics, at least 7 351 people were murdered with a firearm in 2019/2020. Two years earlier that figure stood at 6 551.
Over the last year, knives were used in at least 4531 murders. “Guns make up 34.5% of all murders in South Africa, and this is related to the fact that guns are much more lethal. For example with domestic violence, if a woman is attacked in a domestic violence situation, where there is a gun present she has a 12 to 18 times greater chance of dying,” said Claire Taylor, a researcher at Gun Free South Africa (GFSA).
GFSA called for authorities to take steps to reduce existing stockpiles of legal and illegal guns and prevent new guns from entering the market. It also wants the introduction of the mandatory reporting of gunshot injuries by health centres. This would allow authorities to track gun violence in real time and quickly identify hotspots.
In his presentation yesterday to MPs head of the crime register in the police Lt-Gen. Norman Sekhukhune said KwaZulu-Natal is the murder capital with 4 859 murders followed by Gauteng with 4 555 murders, with the Western Cape sitting at 3 975 and the Eastern Cape with 3 879 murders.
Rapes increased by 1.7% to 42 289. But Sekhukhune said yesterday there has been a decline in the murder of women from 2 771 women killed in 2018/19 to 2 695 murdered in 2019/20.
The killing of children declined from 1 014 to 943 murders. Sekhukhune said the figures of gender-based violence were preliminary with the police to go back and verify the numbers at police stations following the lockdown due to Covid-19.
The DA, IFP and Cope said yesterday the government was losing the battle against criminals.