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SA murder rate up, sexual offences decline, police crack down on construction mafias – Cele

SA murder rate up, sexual offences decline, police crack down on construction mafias – Cele
Illustrative image | Minister of Police Bheki Cele presented the quarterly crime statistics on Friday, 16 February, reflecting on crimes that occurred during the third quarter of the 2023/24 financial year. (Photo: GCIS) | SAPS officers in Muizenberg. (Photos: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach) | iStock | Rawpixel)

Minister of Police Bheki Cele has highlighted the arrests of alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield and his wife, Nicole Johnson, as part of the SA Police Service’s efforts to neutralise the construction mafia.

From April 2023 to date, more than 61 suspects linked to the construction mafia have been arrested. Since 2019, 27 accused have been convicted and collectively sentenced to 43 years’ imprisonment.

mathale cele

Deputy Minister of Police Cassel Mathale (left) and Minister of Police Bheki Cele. (Photo: Kopano Tlape / GCIS)

These figures were contained in the fourth-quarter crime statistics for 1 October 2023 to 31 December 2023 released by Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday. The stats come from crimes reported at 1,163 police stations countrywide.

Cele said 7,710 people were murdered during the period. This compares to 6,945 murders, including 881 women and 293 children, between 1 July and 30 September 2023.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Police Minister Cele: ‘Too many women and children are not safe around those they know and trust’ 

Construction mafia

The Western Cape, Cele said, had made significant progress in dismantling the construction mafia.

stanfield johnson

Ralph Stanfield and his wife Nicole Johnson at the Cape Town Regional Court on 16 September 2023. (Photo: Gallo Images / Die Burger / Jaco Marais)

Among the many arrests were alleged kingpins, which include alleged 28s gang boss Ralph Stanfield and his wife, Nicole Johnson, on 29 September 2023.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Alleged 28s boss Ralph Stanfield and his wife arrested in Cape Town crackdown following Ayepyep extortion spat

In December 2023 the City of Cape Town blacklisted businesses linked to Johnson, who runs a company awarded tenders to build houses in Cape Town, with several projects targeted by the violent construction mafia. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Cape Town housing ‘mediator’ interdicted from accessing buildings, making threats

Other alleged underworld figures mentioned by Cele include Nafiz Modack, who with 14 others is charged with a range of crimes, including the assassination of Anti-Gang Unit Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear, the attempted murder of attorney William Booth and the murder of 74-year-old Nicolaas Heerschap, who was gunned down outside his Melkbosstrand home on 9 July 2019. Heerschap was the father of former Hawks detective Nico Heerschap, who was investigating Modack at the time of the murder.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Nafiz Modack deeply implicated in assassinations in Cape Town, appears in multiple courts

Cele said, “In a recent incident, 12 suspects were arrested during a takedown operation in Toekomsrus, Randfontein. A group calling itself Toekomsrus Business Forum attempted to disrupt a R320-million housing project by demanding a 30% stake in it; the police’s swift response resulted in the arrest of these 12 suspects, and two firearms were confiscated.” 

Murder rate

Cele said it was disturbing that the number of murders during the third quarter had increased by 2.1% — 155 more than in the previous reporting period.

crime situation

He commended KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Free State for registering a decrease in murders during this period.

“While they may not be out of the woods yet, it is important to highlight that attention and more resources have been allocated to stations that have the highest number of murders reported. The majority of the top 30 stations where murder was most reported include the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Eastern Cape.”

The five police stations that reported the highest incidence of murders were Inanda in KZN and Mfuleni, Gugulethu, Nyanga and Khayelitsha in the Western Cape. 


“From a sample size of 7,340 murders it was established that arguments, misunderstandings and provocation remain the top causal factors, leading to 1,116 murders. It is also concerning that of the 268 gang-related murders, 250 … were reported in the Western Cape.

“Also, 431 murders were linked to vigilantism and ‘mob justice’ attacks. Gauteng registered the highest with 84, followed by the Eastern Cape with 80 and KwaZulu-Natal with 78,” Cele said.

Decline in sexual offences

He said the fight against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) remained a priority for the men and women in blue. It was encouraging to report that there was a 1.7% decrease in sexual offences, including rape, and sexual assault during the period. 


“Rape declined by 1.7% and six provinces, Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Northern Cape and Western Cape, saw a decrease in this crime category.

“More than 2,400 suspect raids led to 4,264 suspects being arrested for GBVF-related crimes such as rape and sexual assault. What is encouraging is that more awareness programmes are being conducted by our social crime prevention and Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Units, which translates to an increase in the reporting of these crimes,” he said.

A total of 112 life sentences were handed down to 89 rapists and GBVF perpetrators. In addition, 64 rapists and GBVF perpetrators were sentenced to at least 20 years’ imprisonment, while 172 rapists and GBVF perpetrators were sentenced to between 10 and 19 years.

“What is most encouraging is that Inanda, which has always been known as the rape capital of the country, has also seen a slight reduction in the number of rape cases by registering 20 counts lower than the same period under review. This goes to show that our FCS teams are proving to be acting decisively against those who are perpetrating rape crimes.

“What is still worrying and of great concern is that the majority of the rapes were committed at victims’ residences. The perpetrators were either neighbours, friends or family members,” Cele said.

Major drug busts

There were four major drug busts during the review period. Three were at Durban Harbour, where cocaine to the value of R300-million was seized. In the most recent incident at the harbour, cocaine worth R151-million was seized. It had been packaged in meat boxes bound for Brazil.


Read more in Daily Maverick: R151-million cocaine disguised in meat boxes seized in Durban in latest SA-Brazil bust

The fourth drug bust occurred in the port of Gqeberha, where cocaine worth R65-million was seized.

Drugs worth R800-million were destroyed in Gauteng during the period, while 15 clandestine drug laboratories were shut down and 21 suspects arrested on drug-related charges.

“Indeed, our intelligence structures are hard at work in preventing and putting a stop to the drug trade in the country and beyond. This is also a clear demonstration that all stakeholders involved in border security management are working together to tighten the control measures of cargo entering and departing our country,” Cele said.

Police killings

During the three months, 22 police officers were killed — 10 while on duty and 12 while off duty. Police arrested 12 suspects, two of whom were convicted and given four sentences of life imprisonment. 

police murders

Earlier this month, Denzil October, who fatally shot Constable Ashwin Pedro in Grassy Park in December 2022, was given a 30-year sentence for the murder.

“We will not hesitate to ensure that those who harbour police killers or are in any way involved in criminal activity related to police killings will face the same consequences as the criminal who actually pulled the trigger. This principle applies to anyone who assists criminals in committing crimes or evading the law afterwards,” Cele said. DM


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  • Trevor Gray says:

    The cat in the hat uses the Western Cape as an example of Construction Mafia being curbed. The only reason why this is the case is due to pressure from the City. It is also trite that Cele talks of drug intercepts as if it is the only product entering the country. For every interception one could postulate that another 9 are undetected.
    As for murders excluding cops, the reality is that there is and will continue to be a less than 15% prosecution rate. If one were to look at total murders over the past 5 years one would see a horrific failure rate of apprehension which simply means that murderers still rom amongst us. The high rate of GbV deaths are invariably spouse or partner kills and are easily apprehended which further skews the narrative to pad the apprehension ratio.
    If one were to look at how many cops are killed annually vs conviction rates a putrid result is apparent. If cops can be killed without consequences then what chance does the vulnerable man in the street have? These killings show a disdain for law and order and further more if looking at political killings suggests a SAPS woefully inept and rudderless.
    The only time SAPS were prolific was when Covid was around. We then saw them in full force, at times brutalizing the public. Who can forget Cele harassing beach goers?
    No amount of empty words and cherry picking can deny the reality of our crime epidemic.
    Time for Cele to go!

  • Zai AD says:

    all the negative aspects of (well about anything) seems to increase with ease under the Association of National Criminals…
    Yet we know with whom( many assertions heres) the problems lie… but to elucidate will be regarded as……


    Is it a coincidence that both Minister and Deputy Minister wear hats? As for the rest of the article, it highlights that both hat wearing personnel should be fired. When 10 Woman and 4 children get murdered every month, not counting the woman and children that suffer huge trauma every day, then something drastic needs to happen. the problem however is, this problem has been with us for years and Ramaphosa does nothing to resolve it. Amazingly there are still people that will vote for him and his Cadres.

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