South Africa


Murder remains ‘worryingly stubborn’ even as other contact crime categories see decreases in incidents – Minister Bheki Cele

Murder remains ‘worryingly stubborn’ even as other contact crime categories see decreases in incidents – Minister Bheki Cele
Police Minister Bheki Cele admits murders are 'stubbornly' high (Photo: Esa Alexander / Sunday Times)

While incidents of rape and other contact crimes decreased during the third quarter of 2021/2022, murder has remained ‘worryingly stubborn’, according to Minister of Police Bheki Cele at a media briefing on the most recent crime statistics on Friday. The minister maintained, however, that the overall crime figures show how far solid policing and resourcing can go.

During the third quarter of 2021/2022, the South African Police Service (SAPS) in all provinces put plans in place to ensure safety over the festive season, said Minister of Police Bheki Cele.

“These plans ensured that crime was kept to the minimum by doubling up efforts to safeguard the security of the republic,” said Cele. “It is also public knowledge that during the festive season, criminals tend to use this time of festivities to target members of the public for their criminal gain.”

Cele noted that there had been a significant reduction in a number of crimes committed and reported to SAPS during this period, with a decrease in incidents within most crime categories.

“Categories such as common robbery, sexual assault, attempted sexual offences and contact sexual offences have recorded a three-to-four-digit decrease,” said Cele.

However, the crime of murder was an exception to this, remaining “worryingly stubborn”, he added.

Between October and December 2021, there were 6,859 murders, an increase of 562 incidents from the same time period in 2020, according to the Police Recorded Crime Statistics report for the third quarter of 2021/2022. This marks an increase of 8.9%.

Only two provinces saw a decrease in murder during the third quarter of 2021 – relative to the third quarter of 2020 – being the Free State, with a 21.1% decrease, and the Western Cape, with a 6.9% decrease.

The top 10 police stations with the most recorded murder cases were:

  • Inanda in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Delft in the Western Cape
  • Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Plessislaer in KwaZulu-Natal
  • Mfuleni in Western Cape
  • Kagiso in Gauteng
  • Kraaifontein in the Western Cape
  • Alexandra in Gauteng
  • Harare in the Western Cape
  • Gugulethu in the Western Cape

In a sample size of 5,402 counts of murder, the most common cause was arguments, non-domestic misunderstandings, road rage and provocation, causing 1,151 murders. This was followed by vigilantism or mob justice, causing 357 murders, and robbery, causing 345 murders.

The report shows a 4.2% increase in the murder of women between the third quarter of 2020 and 2021, with 866 and 902 women being murdered in these time periods, respectively.

Attempted murder of women went up from 1,157 to 1,240 – an increase of 7.2%.

Murders of children, meanwhile, went down by 5.6% between October to December 2020 and October to December 2021, from 373 to 352.

Recorded incidents of rape dropped in every province across the country during the third quarter of 2021, with a 7.4% decrease in South Africa overall. 

The most significant decreases were in the Western Cape, North West and Northern Cape, with 13%, 10.9% and 10.2% decreases, respectively.

Cele emphasised that gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) remain priority crimes for the SAPS.

“I again call all SAPS members to continue improving their responses and service delivery to victims and survivors of GBVF at station level,” he said.

Dedicated GBVF desks are now available at 381 police stations across South Africa, Cele said, adding SAPS intended to have GBVF help desks in every police station by the end of March this year.

Kidnapping has seen an increase during the 2021/2022 third quarter, with 35.7% more kidnappings taking place compared to the same period the previous year. This marks an increase from 1,919 to 2,605 cases.

In a sample size of 2,205 cases, 744 kidnapping incidents were hijacking-related. A further 330 were robbery-related, and 246 were rape-related.

The Free State and the Western Cape saw a decrease in kidnapping cases of 16.3% and 17.9%, respectively.

There was a drop in incidents of both common robbery and robbery with aggravating circumstances. The former dropped by 11%, while the latter dropped by 1.3%.

Overall, total contact crimes, being crimes against the person, dropped by 4%. The total sexual offences – a category that includes rape, sexual assault and attempted sexual offences – dropped by 9%.

Speaking on the overall outcomes of the third quarter of 2021/2022, Cele said: “These crime figures show how far solid planned targeted policing and resourcing can go. We have committed to improving our state of policing through specialised policing and refocusing our efforts and expertise in taking down organised crime syndicates.”

He added that while the statistics are not a win for the SAPS, they are certainly an improvement.

“The last three months of 2021 were not a free for all for criminals,” said Cele. “It is through the acceleration of this policing momentum and improving of our working relationship with communities, through community-based structures such as community policing forums, structures of NGOs, who have also been in the forefront of the fight against the scourge that is crime, that [the situation] has improved.” DM



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Johan Buys says:

    We need our heads read

    In one quarter we had about 7000 murders, call it 28,000 a year.

    Last year we had 1,295 fatal car crashes according to RTMC. (that number does not gel well with a few bus accidents alone but anyway that is what RTMC put out)

    Yet we are contemplating changing speed limits in response to fatal car crashes (wherein a question mark hangs over whether speed was cause for many accidents).

    What must we change to reduce murders by a multiple of road accidents fatalities? Maybe if we drive faster we will get fewer car hijackings…

  • Roland Preitnacher says:

    Germany has 80 Mil people, 2000 statistics = 240 murders pa, conviction rate 94%.
    The Minister of Police doesn’t need a hat with a feather to look cool, but he knows his job.
    We have 240 odd murders in 3 days, that together with the traffic casualties amounts to a civil war.

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