More than 21 000 South Africans were murdered in the 2018/19 reporting year – the highest number since 2002/03.
The number of murders is a very accurate reflection of overall crime, as a murder has to be reported, unlike most other types of crime.
The latest murder statistics put the country’s murder rate at 36 per 100 000 people.
In post-apartheid South Africa, the worst year for murder was 1995/96, when the rate climbed to 68 for every 100 000 people.
Thereafter the rate declined steadily until about 2010. By 2011/12, the murder rate had dropped to 31 and the number of murders was 15 500, the lowest recorded since 1994.
However, this trend is now reversing with the number of murders continuing to rise.
The statistics for other serious crimes remain stubbornly high, too. For example, over 40 000 rapes were reported in 2018/19, almost double the number of murders. Given that a large number of rapes typically go unreported, the true figure could be even higher.
A small glimmer of good news in the latest statistics is that most forms of property crimes and aggravated robbery registered a small decline over the previous reporting year.
In addition, the incidents of drug-related crime dropped by nearly 100 000, falling from 320 000 to 230 000. This may be because of the effective decriminalisation of the possession of marijuana in South Africa.
The Institute of Race Relations has suggested a number of interventions to reduce the scourge of crime. These include:
– Increasing staffing and resources for Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units, including expert prosecutors;
– Improving the process of applying for and enforcing protection orders;
– Expediting the process of applying for and being granted firearm licences for self-defence;
– Establishing an inquiry and public hearings into criminality within the police;
– Making all police and prosecutorial appointments on merit alone;
– Increasing the powers of Community Police Forums;
– Granting communities the power to elect station commanders; and
– Employing private sector expertise in policing.
First published on Daily Friend