SA’s second quarter murder rate drops slightly but remains stubbornly high

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South Africa’s murder rate dropped by .8% between July and September this year, with 6 945 people murdered, the latest crime statistics have revealed.

Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday released the Crime Stats Quarter 2 of 2023/2024, which showed that South Africa has, for the second consecutive quarter, seen a decrease in the murder rate, with a 3.1% decline recorded between May and July, and a 0.8% drop in the number of people killed between July and September 2023 (7 004 people were murdered between July and September 2022).

Cele said the drop in the murder rate is reflective of the SAPS’s continued efforts to combat crime through decisive police action and robust community involvement.

The crime statistics report noted a decrease in crimes that instil fear amongst people, including trio crimes (hijackings, business and property robberies).

However, common assault rose by 958 incidents to 45 348 between July and September, and 165 909 contact crimes were reported in the three months. Over 10 500 rapes were reported, along with 6 009 hijackings, 6 045 robberies at residential properties and 4 910 robberies at non-residential premises.

Other crime statistics for July-September 2023 included 64 cash-in-transit heists, and 542 truck hijackings.

David Bruce, Policing Expert at the Institute for Security Studies, last week said South Africa’s murder rate has grown by more than 50% since 2011/12, with over 27 000 murders between April 2022 and March 2023, at a rate of 45 per 100 000 people. This compares to 29 per 100 000 in 2012.

The latest crime statistics showed that of the 6 945 people murdered between July and September this year, 881 were women and 293 children.

Thirty-five police officers were also killed on and off duty in the same period, as well as 19 law enforcement officers attached to national, provincial and local government, and private security.

Cele said the majority of people killed in South Africa are murdered during arguments, misunderstandings and provocations that usually take place at social settings.

“Arguments, vigilantism and robbery remain the top three causative factors for murder in the majority of the provinces. Firearms, knives and sharp instruments are likely to be used as murder weapons.

“Firearms alone claimed the lives of 3 106 victims. Police have, between July to September 2023, removed 2 175 firearms off the streets through police operations,” Cele said.

Cele said these statistics give police a sober analysis of the effectiveness of policing efforts to keep South Africans and their properties safe.

“These numbers are also used to redirect resources to where they are needed most in order to better respond to the common enemy of crime. This redirection of resources is clearly demonstrated through the decline in certain crime categories in the top four crime heavy provinces, namely KZN, Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape.

“These provinces have collectively reduced many of their contact crimes, including trio crimes, robberies, sexual assault and assault during this reporting period. What is clear and should never be ignored is that the crime figures should and must serve as a call of action for government, business, NGOs, civil society and communities to come on board in the fight against crime,” Cele said.

The Minister said the government is going to great lengths to capacitate critical units of the police service in order to keep communities safer. This includes the overhauling and strengthening of the management of the Crime Intelligence division.

“Crime Intelligence capacity has also been strengthened at the top 30 crime heavy police stations. The Intelligence officers have also been supplied with adequate resources, including vehicles and other tools of trade to gather intelligence,” Cele said.

“The recruitment drive of thousands more police officers under Project 10 000 to boost police numbers at stations in all provinces continues to gain momentum. The decrease in murder figures shows that the targeting of crimes in hotspots must be maintained and further strengthened,” Cele said.

Cele noted that through the intensified national policing approach to prevent and combat crime during the high-density Operation Shanela, the department is starting to break even and seeing decreases in certain crime categories.

According to the statistics, Operation Shanela, which is in its sixth month running has resulted in the arrest of over 226 000 suspects, including some of the most wanted and dangerous criminals.