Crime Stats: Nearly 5000 South Africans were murdered in just three month
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By Shaun Smillie and Siyabonga Mkhwanazi
In three months, 4 976 people were killed in South Africa as the country’s murder rate continues its climb after the brief respite brought on by the Covid 19 lockdown.
Murders, nationally, increased by 8,4 % fuelled in part by dramatic rises in the number of killings in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. In the Eastern Cape, the number of murders increased by 21,5 % from January to March 2020 to the same time the following year. KwaZulu-Natal saw an increase of 16,9% over the same period.
Gauteng’s murder rate increase was just under 4%. The Gauteng police station with the highest number of murders between January and March this year was Ivory Park, with 40 killings.
These numbers were provided yesterday by Police Minister Bheki Cele when he released the latest quarterly crime statistics.
Once again, violent crime numbers are up and the police are being blamed. The killings continue to grow, as they have done over the last eight years. Only the hard lockdown temporarily slowed the trajectory.
While the number of murders and attempted murders increased nationally, other crimes did fall.
The number of rapes fell by 3,9%, while assault with intent to inflict grievous bodily harm decreased by 9,3% and common robbery by 22,1%. These decreases, believes Lizette Lancaster of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), is a legacy of Covid 19 and the lockdow
"The lockdown restrictions had some impact on all levels of crime. Every time we see a bit of a loosening of the restrictions, you see increases specifically, in violent crime and robberies. Some crimes remain down, but it's mainly because, you know, you've got people at homes and businesses,” she said. “But clearly, this shows that not even severe restrictions can limit or mitigate to the fullest our violence levels.”
Other violent crimes also increased. Car hijackings were up 4,9%, house robberies by 7,6% and business robberies by 2,8%.
“I do not think that the police could get a handle on organised crime syndicates during the lockdown, because they were so busy enforcing restrictions rather than necessarily focusing on the stuff that they used to do in order to curb organised crime,” said Lancaster.
Yesterday, political parties pulled no punches.
The DA and IFP said the police were not doing enough to fight crime in the country.
DA MP and its spokesperson on police Andrew Whitfield said they were concerned about the increase in murders.
“The DA is very concerned about the increase in murder, particularly the sharp increases in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. We are concerned about the general increase of murder by 8%. In 2019, the SAPS launched the rural safety strategy and it is clear the plan is not working.
The biggest thing that underpins this is that criminals feel there are no consequences they will continue with crime,” said Whitfield.
Whitfield said there needed to be prosecutions so that criminals will feel the wrath of the law.
He said with rape cases the other factor was the backlog of DNA samples at the Forensic Sciences Laboratory.
He said 58% of the gender-based violence have not been finalised due to the DNA backlog.
The IFP also condemned the increasing levels of crime saying this was an indication police strategies were not working.
IFP MP Zandile Majozi said the police were not on top of the situation.
She called on the police to intervene in hotspot areas to deal with the rampant crime.
“Further to this, 11 people were killed in 10 incidents of murder, which occurred on farms and small-holdings. Rural safety remains of concern to the IFP, as we have on numerous occasions called on the Police Minister to ramp up the Rural Safety and Stock Theft Policing Units across the country,” said Majozi.
“Gauteng and the Western Cape continue to be crime hotspots in our country. Further intervention is required from the National Police, in order to support the Provincial Police in delivering on their mandate. Crimes in these provinces have become more severe,” she said.
Cope spokesperson Dennis Bloem said the police have failed to nail criminals.
Bheki noted during his address that while rape numbers had decreased, Lusikisi in the Eastern Cape, was now the rape capital of the country after overtaking Inanda in Durban.
It is the rise in violent crime in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu that has criminologists concerned.
“So clearly, there's a huge problem in both those provinces and if I was the national Commissioner of Police, I would certainly, without neglecting the rest of the country, focus my research capacity on those two provinces, said Dr Johan Burger of the ISS.
“Try and find out what has changed in those two provinces that has them now topping the list in terms of murder, and then some other violent crimes.”