The South African Police Service (SAPS) has come under scrutiny for the country’s growing murder rate.
Presenting the Q3 2020 crime statistics to parliament last week, the SAPS’ data shows that although the number of reported contact crimes decreased by 1.4%, most categories recorded increases.
Most concerning amongst these are the increases in murder and attempted murder, which increased by 6.6% and 8.7%, respectively.
According to the SAPS, arguments and misunderstandings were the leading motives for murder, accounting for 991 out of the total of 6,297 murders (15.7%) recorded over the three month period between October and December 2020.
It was also asked why the murder rate is so high – especially since some restrictions on the movement of people and goods were still in place under the national lockdown.
The SAPS didn’t have a direct answer to the questions, but said it would look at additional stations to improve public access to the police.
Elaborating further, police minister Bheki Cele said that the country has a “major societal problem” at the core of the violent crime numbers, adding that it was not possible for police officers to be in every home in the country.
This was largely echoed by SAPS national commissioner Khehla Sitole who said that society was “sitting with collapsed family structures” and that the situation was worsening day by day.
“As explained by the minister in terms of the increase of murders in residences – it spoke directly to collapsed family structures.
“These family structures are defined by a lack of proper development and moral fibre. These are not areas for SAPS to directly deal with but these are often the root causes of many crimes.”
He added that, at present, there was no structured approach to correct them.
Most dangerous areas
The SAPS’ data effectively means 389 more people were killed compared to the corresponding period in the previous financial year.
Mpumalanga province recorded the highest increase (13.7%) when compared to the corresponding period in the previous financial year.
Limpopo, North West and Northern Cape provinces recorded a decline in murder cases, of which 193 cases involved domestic violence.
The top four causative factors of these deaths include arguments, robberies at a household and businesses, mob justice incidents and gang-related killings, Cele said.
A total of 2,481 people were murdered in public areas, namely in the street, in an open field or parking areas. Murders were also likely to occur at the home of the victim or perpetrator, and at liquor outlets.
The below table shows the murder by the top 30 police stations: