Police Minister Bheki Cele said the high murder rate bordered close to a war zone, as he expressed concern over the brutality of the killings - with most victims being shot dead or stabbed to death.
Crime statistics released on Tuesday in Parliament showed that 20336 people were killed between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018. Of these, 6550 people were shot and killed.
Those who died from knife attacks totalled 4866 - 445 were killed by the use of hands, 76 others were attacked with an axe while 72 people were sjambokked to death.
Nyanga, in the Western Cape, maintained its unenvious title of "murder capital of South Africa" with 308 killings in the financial year under review, compared to the 281 cases reported at the same area in the previous year (an increase of 9.6%).
Cele said: “The crime stats this financial year are nothing to write home about. Our emphasis is what needs to be done rather than the crime stats, which don’t give any joy to talk about.
“It doesn’t matter what figures you put, but if you can’t deal and control the murder cases, you are not bringing any joy to the South African people. It doesn’t matter what else you reduce; if people die and when you look at the figures, there are 57 dying a day. It borders close to a war zone while there is peace; there is no war in South Africa.”
Cele said the murder rate scared him. He said looking at the historic murder trends, the country should have lower numbers. He said the numbers were going down between 2009 and 2012.
In 2009, Cele was appointed as national police commissioner until he was fired in 2012. During his term, he introduced the Tactical Response Team to help fight serious crimes.
“In 2012/13 we took off, and here we are on 20000. If we had kept the downward trend we could be on 9000. The SAPS have dropped the ball for such figures to happen,” Cele said.
The top 30 police stations with the highest murder rate account for 4124 of all killings nationally. At least 10 of these were in the Western Cape, and include Philippi East with 205 murders and Delft with 195.
In Gauteng, Jeppe police station leads with 125 murders followed by Ivory Park with 108. Kagiso had 101 murders, Hillbrow 98, Moroka and Tembisa 97 each, while Joburg Central recorded 91 killings.
The number of murders at uMlazi in KwaZulu-Natal rose sharply by 19.3% from 187 to 223, making it the police station with the second-highest number of murders recorded in 2017/18.
DA spokesperson on police Zakhele Mbhele said the ANC had failed to keep ordinary citizens safe. “The fact that the ANC spends an average of R9.1million to protect one VIP but only R1500 per South African resident reveals that their skewed priorities are crippling the fight against the unacceptably high levels of crime in the county.”
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said the fight against crime required action by all South Africans.
“Crime fighting remains one of the ANC’s top priorities. Efforts and creative interventions must be intensified and consolidated to escalate our battle against crime,” Mthembu said.
Institute for Security Studies justice and violence prevention head Gareth Newham said to deal with murders, police needed to focus on hotspots.
“More research is needed into why there was a slight reported decrease in other violent crimes such as assault (down 1.9%) or armed robbery (down 1.8%), as these are the crimes that often lead to murder,” he said.
Gun Free SA chairperson Ronald Menoe said violent crime had not been this high since late 1990 when the number of guns in South Africa peaked. “The government’s response to the 1990s crime wave focused on reducing availability of guns,” he said.