South Africa’s murder rate continues to increase with a total of 17 805 murders committed from 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015, the national crime statistics released on Tuesday reveal.
The statistics, which were completed in conjunction with Statistics South Africa, were released by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, Deputy Police Minister Makhotso Sotyu, the National Commissioner General Riah Phiyega, as well as some MECs responsible for Policing and Provincial Commissioners during a sitting of the Police Portfolio Committee in Parliament.
The data indicates that the murder rate increased for the third year in a row. Incidents of murder increased by 4.6% in the 2014/15 financial year when compared to the previous year.
This means 782 more murders were committed in South African compared to the 2013/14 financial year.
Previously, incidents of murder had increased from 16213 murders in 2012/13 to 17023 in 2013/14. This comes on the back of a similar increase in 2011/12 which stood at 15554.
The murder rate refers to the number of people who are murdered per 100 000 of the population. This allows for comparisons between areas of high and low population density.
Murder is an important crime to monitor because it is regarded as a benchmark indicator of a country’s safety and security.
The number of murders increased in all provinces except for the Northern Cape were it decreased.
KwaZulu-Natal had the most murder incidents which went up from 3616 in 2013/14 to 3810 in 2014/15.
This was followed by Gauteng with 346 more murders than the last reporting year. The total number of murders in Gauteng stood at 3671. The Western Cape had 31 86 murder incidents, the Eastern Cape had 3321.
There were 943 murders in the Free State in 2014/15 as compared to 942 in 2013/14. In North West 853 murders were committed which is up from 824.
Murders decreased in the Northern Cape from 437 in 2013/14 to 413 this year.
Attempted murder is also up by 3.2% nationally, with Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape leading with the highest number of reported attempted murders.
Minister Nhleko said as the police, they are worried about this trend. However, the data also reflects social circumstances.
“The issue of crime statistics is not simply about the numbers; they are reflection of the state of the society … it’s who we are as a society,” he said, adding that the country continues to have a violent and aggressive feature in its social outlook.
He said alcohol and drugs were major contributors to social and violent troubles. There is a “causal link” between alcohol and drug consumption and violent crime.
Police confiscated about 1.7 billion litres of alcohol in the reporting period.
Another contributing factor, Minister Nhleko said, was inequality and the number of illegal firearms which are in the wrong hands despite police destroying thousands from time to time.
Social mobilisation was needed in order to address the incidents of murder he said.