Police, on Tuesday 11 September, reported the killing of women increased 11% in the year to end March 2018, with 20% more boys (under 18 years) murdered compared to the previous 12 months.
The killing of girls (under 18 years) was up more than 10%, the South African Police Service (SAPS) told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police. Murder was up 6.9% in SA overall, the sixth consecutive annual increase.
But of the additional 1 320 murders compared to 2016/17, 42% (549) were attributed to just 30 police station areas (2.6%) of the total 1 144 police stations in SA. This should make it possible for police to reduce the killings by targeting resources in murder hotspots, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said.
‘Murder is a localised phenomenon which police would be able to tackle by focusing on the worst affected areas,’ said ISS justice and violence prevention head Gareth Newham.
The latest crime statistics show SA has an average of 56 murders every day. The ISS welcomed SAPS’ frank reporting of murder, the most reliable crime statistic, and Police Minister Bheki Cele’s willingness to recognise the crisis.
More research is needed into why there was a slight reported decrease in other violent crimes such as assault (down 1.9%) or armed robbery (down 1.8%), as these are the crimes that often lead to murder.
These decreases could indicate reduced reporting of assault and armed robbery in SA, or that other factors such as political killings, gang warfare, vigilantism and taxi violence were driving up the murder rate.
‘We welcome the fresh approach of the Police Minister and top leadership of the SAPS to the annual crime statistics,’ Newham said. ‘It was very useful that police provided a breakdown in murders by age and gender and the types of weapons used.’
Crime statistics for 2017/18 were revealed in a way that demonstrated the police were taking murders and robberies seriously, understand the importance of detailed data in the fight against crime, and are willing to adopt new strategies and tactics to tackle these crimes, Newham said.
Different kinds of murders require different responses in order to generate targeted and informed responses, he said.