These are the most violent areas in South Africa

 ·23 Nov 2022

South Africa’s latest crime stats for the second quarter of the year show an alarming rise in violent crime in the country.

According to police minister Bheki Cele, the country has seen 7,004 reported murders in the three months to 30 September 2022, equating to 78 people in the country being murdered every day.

But the country’s problems are not with murder alone – the minister said that the crime figures show that aggression and violence are at worrying levels in South Africa.

“The July to September months saw a record number of assault cases reported to the police in five years. The SAPS across the country investigated a total of 85,640 cases of assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm (GBH) and common assault cases in the three months of reporting,” he said.

The crime data includes the circumstances in which many of these cases take place, and they reveal that South Africans are a generally angry population.

Arguments, road rage, provocation and misunderstandings, as well as retaliation, revenge and punishment, remain the top motives for assaults GBH, Cele said, while murders usually follow the same general patterns.

There are also increasing cases of vigilantism, the minister noted, with 528 lives claimed through so-called ‘community justice’.

Crime levels across the country were up between July and September 2022, with increases for most in the double digits. Cele noted that this is because the crime levels are being compared to the same period in 2021, when the country was still under high levels of lockdown.

However, even comparing violent crime data to pre-Covid levels, it is clear that cases are up.

Pre-Covid, the quarterly murder rate was recorded at 9 people per 100,000 population. In the latest figures, this has escalated to 12 per 100,000. A similar pattern is seen with other violent crime categories like assault (73 per 100,000 in 2Q23 vs 66 per 100,000 in 2Q22) and attempted murder (10 vs 8, respectively).

Across the country, South Africa has seen a new province emerge as the most violent when it comes to murders.

The Eastern Cape’s murder rate (per 100,000 people) has shot up to 19.7 in the quarter, overtaking KwaZulu Natal by some margin. In the comparable period last year, the two provinces were on par at 15.0.

KZN is still the second most violent, with its murder rate climbing to 16.0. This is followed by the Western Cape at 14.5, and Gauteng at 9.8.

Looking at the top 30 stations for murder in the country – these being the police stations closest to where the murder took place and the crime was reported – Inanda in KZN ranks as the most violent area, with 99 murders recorded in the region.

This is followed by Umlazi in KZN, and Nyanga and Delft in the Western Cape.

Reflecting the overall provincial murder rates, the top stations for reported murders are dominated by the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng.

Where murders take place

According to the SAPS data, most murders take place in public areas, such as on the street, in open fields, in parking areas or on beaches. This is also the case for attempted murder.

The second most common location for murders, however, is at the residence of the victim or another residence of someone known to the victim. Notably, this is the top location for assault GBH to take place.

Other common murders, attempted murder, and assault sites include in vehicles – either a car, bus or taxi – or at taverns and liquor stores.

Worryingly, Cele noted an uptick in the number of mass shootings the SAPS was dealing with. The police highlighted at least four mass murders happening over the period, including three mass shootings and a farm murder where seven people were killed during a house robbery.

The SAPS is investigating 250 dockets of multiple murders, with 578 victims, he said.

Guns are also the main weapon used in murder cases, outnumbering knife killings at a rate of three-to-one. After guns and knives, the most common murder weapons are other unspecified sharp objects and blunt instruments.

Given their prominence in the crime narrative of South Africa, the SAPS gives special focus to farm murders in its data. The police recorded 16 victims of farm murders in the country in 10 incidents.

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