Crime ‘worrying’ in South Africa: 7,000 murdered in three months

Quarterly crime statistics show a rise in murder, rape and kidnapping figures compared with the same time last year.

South African police
South Africa's police minister said 10,000 new recruits would be ready to join the police force ahead of Christmas and New Year [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]

More than 7,000 people were murdered over three months in South Africa, according to new police statistics, which showed a rise in violent crime from the same period last year.

On Wednesday, South Africa’s parliamentary portfolio committee on police heard details of the crime statistics, recording those crimes reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) from July 1 to September 30, 2022.

Quarterly figures showed that the murder rate rose 14 percent between July and September, compared with the same timeframe in 2021, when 6,163 people were killed.

Almost 1,000 women were among those murdered during the period in 2022. More than 13,000 women were also victims of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, and 1,277 women were victims of attempted murder.

“The rate at which women are abused, violated and some killed in South Africa remains worrying and unacceptable,” Police Minister Bheki Cele told a news conference.

The figures also showed that kidnappings doubled to more than 4,000 compared with the same time last year; and rapes, in a country notorious for sex attacks against women and children, were up 11 percent, with 10,000 cases opened across the country.

Carjackings rose 24 percent to more than 6,000.

And between April and September, more than 550 children were killed.

“The crime statistics again show that we as communities continue to fail to protect some of the most vulnerable in society: our children,” Cele said.

The police minister promised that 10,000 new recruits would be ready to join the police force before the Christmas and New Year period, when crime typically rises.

Their deployment “will intensify police visibility during the festive season and beyond,” he said. “Nothing will replace fighting crime [better] than warm bodies.”

The country’s largest labour confederation, COSATU, said last month that the force’s headcount has declined by nearly 30,000 during the past decade from more than 200,000 to 172,000.

Cele, who is under fire for the crime wave, noted that from July to September last year, South Africa was under various levels of coronavirus lockdown, with restrictions on many activities.

But that will be of little consolation for many South Africans who have grown accustomed to bleak police bulletins.

“The bloodbath of violent crime remains out of control across the country with millions of people living in fear,” said Andrew Whitfield, a lawmaker with the largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Cele.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies