‘Worrying’ crime in South Africa: 7,000 killed in three months

Quarterly crime statistics show an increase in the numbers of murders, rapes and kidnappings compared to the same period last year.

More than 7,000 people were killed in three months in South Africa, according to new police statistics, which showed an increase in violent crime over the same period last year.

On Wednesday, South Africa’s parliamentary police committee heard details of crime statistics, recording crimes reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) from July 1 to September 30, 2022.

Quarterly figures showed the homicide rate increased 14 percent between July and September, compared with the same period in 2021, when 6,163 people died.

Nearly 1,000 women were among those killed during the 2022 period. More than 13,000 women were also victims of assaults with the intent to cause serious bodily harm, and 1,277 women were victims of attempted murder.

“The rate at which women are abused, raped and some murdered in South Africa remains worrying and unacceptable,” Police Minister Bheki Cele told a news conference.

The figures also showed that kidnappings doubled to more than 4,000 compared to the same period last year; and rape, in a country known for sexual attacks against women and children, rose 11 percent, with 10,000 open cases across the country.

Vehicle thefts increased 24 percent to more than 6,000.

And between April and September, more than 550 children were killed.

“Crime statistics show again that we as communities continue to fail to protect some of the most vulnerable in society: our children,” Cele said.

The police minister promised that 10,000 new recruits would be ready to join the police force before the Christmas and New Year period, when crime tends to spike.

Their deployment will “intensify police visibility during the festive season and beyond,” he said. “Nothing will replace the fight against crime [better] what warm bodies.”

The country’s largest labor confederation, COSATU, said last month that the force’s workforce has shrunk by nearly 30,000 over the past decade from more than 200,000 to 172,000.

Cele, which is under fire from the crime wave, noted that from July to September last year, South Africa was under various levels of coronavirus lockdown, with restrictions on many activities.

But that will be little comfort to many South Africans who have grown accustomed to grim police bulletins.

“The bloodbath of violent crime continues to spiral out of control across the country with millions of people living in fear,” said Andrew Whitfield, a lawmaker for the largest opposition Democratic Alliance party, calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to sack to Cele.