The South African Police Service (SAPS) has published the latest crime statistics for South Africa, showing another jump in the number of murders recorded in the country.
For the period April 2018 to March 2019, the SAPS recorded 21,022 murders in the country, up 3.4% from the year before.
This averages out to 57.6 murders each day, at a rate of 35.8 murders per 100,000 people (based on the latest population estimates).
This continues the decades-long trend of increasing violent crime in South Africa, where the number of murders has continued to climb since 2010.
The SAPS cited three main causes:
- Criminal behaviour, where murders happen as a result of other crimes and criminal activity;
- Group behaviour, where gangs murder each other, taxi violence erupts, or mobs seek out vigilante justice; and
- Social behaviour, where social ills (alcohol and drug abuse), dysfunctional relationships, unemployment and other problems lead to deaths.
The SAPS data showed that most murders – over 60% – took place over the weekend, between the hours of 21h00 and 03h00.
In most cases, firearms were used to commit murders, with knives being the second most common murder weapon.
The SAPS noted that murders and attempted murders aligned with the times that most people would be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, with many of the underlying causes of these crimes being arguments gone wrong.
Other murders and attempted murders are as a result of gang violence, armed robbery, domestic violence and those seeking revenge or mob justice.
Worst areas for murder in South Africa
Aligning with the population distribution in South Africa, most murders take place in the most populous provinces – Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape.
However, the Western Cape account for over a third of the most murderous areas when looking at the top 30 worst precincts for murder.
11 precincts are found in the Western Cape, with eight in Gauteng and six in KwaZulu Natal. Five are in the Eastern Cape.
Nyanga, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, is still ranked as the most violent place in South Africa, despite an improvement in its murder rate on 2018.
The area recorded the most murders in 2019, with 289 reported crimes over the period.
Nyanga was established in the late 1940s to house black labourers who were banned from living close to the city during apartheid.
Spread over an area of 3.1 square kilometers (1.2 square miles) – smaller than New York’s Central Park — the area had just shy of 60,000 residents at the time of the last census six years ago.
Residents blame most of the crime on the “maparapara,” – a slang word for the idle youths who are often hooked on crystal methamphetamine, known locally as “tik” – intermittent wars between rival taxi groups vying for business, rampant domestic abuse and binge-drinking.
Indanda was ranked as the most violent area in KwaZulu Natal, and Mthatha takes that top dishonour for the Eastern Cape.
In Gauteng, Johannesburg Central was ranked as most violent, although it only appears 17th overall.