The SA Police Service (SAPS) this week reported the killing of women increased 11% in the year to end March 2018, with 20% more boys (under 18) murdered compared to the previous 12 months.
The killing of girls, under 18, was up more than 10%, SAPS told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police. Murder was up 6.9% in South Africa overall, the sixth consecutive annual increase.
Of the additional 1 320 murders compared to 2016/17, 42% (549) were attributed to just 30 police station areas (2.6%) of the total 1 144 police stations in the country. This should make it possible for police to reduce killings by targeting resources in murder hotspots, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said.
“Murder is a localised phenomenon which police would be able to tackle by focusing on the worst affected areas,” ISS justice and violence prevention head Gareth Newham said.
The latest crime statistics show South Africa averages 56 murders every day. The ISS welcomed SAPS’ frank reporting of murder, the most reliable crime statistic as well as Police Minister Bheki Cele’s willingness to recognise the crisis.
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.
The decreases could indicate reduced reporting of assault and armed robbery, or other factors including political killings, gang warfare, vigilantism and taxi violence driving up the murder rate.
“We welcome the fresh approach of the Police Minister and top leadership of APS to the annual crime statistics. It was useful that police provided a breakdown in murders by age and gender and types of weapons used,” Newham said.
Crime statistics for 2017/18 were revealed in a manner demonstrating police were taking murders and robberies seriously, understood the importance of detailed data in the fight against crime and are willing to adopt new strategies and tactics to tackle these crimes, he added.
Newham pointed out that different types of murder require different responses to generate targeted and informed responses.