Crime stats a mixed bag

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South Africa’s murder rate, one of the world’s highest, is down for the seventh time in eight years, but several other types of serious crime has escalated.
 Police Minister Nathi Mthetwa told reporters in Cape Town this afternoon the latest batch of crime statistics “are a call to action.”

“There are areas where we are making progress. There are other areas where we are lagging behind. We simply cannot tolerate a situation where people do not feel safe in their homes,” he said at Parliament.  
The Bloomberg news service reports murders in the year to March 2009 fell 3.4% to 37.2 per 100 000 people, or a total of 18 148.
There were 2.1 million incidents of serious crime, a marginal decline from the previous year.
The ruling African National Congress, which won a fourth consecutive five-year term in elections in April, identified the fight against crime and corruption as one of its top five priorities.
The government has set the police a target of reducing key categories of crime by between 7-10% a year and hired thousands more policemen ahead of the 2010 soccer World Cup.
South Africa`s murder rate is about 6.6 times higher than in the US and 11.6 times higher than in the U.K. Singapore has the world`s lowest homicide rate, with 0.38 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.
South Africa`s murder rate has fallen 45% over the past four years, said Assistant Police Commissioner Chris de Kock. Fifty-four percent of those murdered were stabbed and 28% were shot.
The number of reported sexual offences rose 10.1% to 71,500, after police changed how they defined certain crime categories.
While the bank robbery rate fell by 29% and attacks on cash dispensers declined 10%, other business robberies surged 42%. Car hijackings increased 5% and truck hijackings rose 15%, while cash-in-transit heists fell 2.3%.
The increase in several categories of crime “are a serious cause for concern,” Dianne Kohler Barnard, a lawmaker for the opposition Democratic Alliance, said in an e-mail. “With the 2010 World Cup fast approaching, the usual rhetoric and empty promises must once and for all be brought to an end. We need more police and better training.”
She said the increase in business crime made it “little wonder that the World Economic Forum`s Global competitiveness report for 08/09 ranked South Africa as the worst place to do business because of crime.” .
Kohler Barnard added that the increase in sexual offences highlighted “just how devastating the … decision to disband the Family Violence, Sexual Offences and Child Protection units (FSC) was.
“That decision was taken for political purposes, and has come at a high cost to ordinary South Africans,” she said without elaborating.