No end to South Africa’s alarming rates of murder

The final quarter of 2023 saw a marked increase in murder cases in South Africa, according to Police Minister Bheki Cele.

During a media briefing on Friday, Cele revealed the nation’s most recent crime figures, stating that 7 710 people lost their lives between October 1 and December 31.

This represents a 2.1% increase in violent deaths over the same period last year, or 155 additional deaths.

The majority of murders were reported in specific areas, with the top five stations located in Inanda, KwaZulu-Natal, and Mfuleni, Gugulethu, Nyanga, and Khayelitsha in the Western Cape.

These areas have been identified as hotspots requiring additional attention and resources to address high murder rates.

According to Cele, a review of 7 340 murder cases showed that misunderstandings, provocation, and arguments were the main causes of these terrible results, accounting for 1 116 fatalities.

Gang-related violence is a big concern

Gang-related violence remains a significant concern, he said, especially in the Western Cape, which reported 250 out of the 268 gang-related murders nationwide.

Moreover, 431 incidents involving acts of retaliation have been connected to vigilantism and mob justice, which have also contributed to the rise in murder cases.

Gauteng, the Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal were the most affected provinces, indicating a troubling trend towards lawlessness in certain communities.

Nonetheless, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, and the Free State have received praise for their attempts to halt the violent trend and lower the number of murders that occurred in the reporting period.

Cele emphasised the need to recognise the accomplishments of these provinces while also noting that the fight against homicide is far from over.

In response to the alarming murder rates, Cele confirmed that 42 murderers received life sentences, amounting to 56 life sentences in total.
Additionally, 83 individuals were sentenced to more than 20 years each, while 282 offenders received sentences ranging from 10 to 19 years.

A further 215 murderers were handed sentences of five to nine years.

Alarming pattern of rapes

Cele said there was a 1.7% decline in reported cases, with a notable decrease in rape incidents.

Despite this encouraging trend, the minister stated that over 4,200 suspects were detained for offences related to gender-based violence, including rape and sexual assault.

Cele emphasised the critical role that law enforcement’s proactive approaches and awareness campaigns play in combating sexual offences.

However, he also brought attention to ongoing obstacles, like the alarming pattern of rapes taking place in the homes of the victims, often by acquaintances or even family members.

“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,” Cele said.

“This goes to show that our FCS [family violence, child protection, and sexual offences] 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.

“Just this week, the Limpopo police apprehended a serial rapist. Manyike Monyuku has been linked to 12 rape cases.”

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