Murder rate increases, as sexual offences drop slightly

Police Minister Bheki Cele presents the crime statics for the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year. Photo: GCIS

Police Minister Bheki Cele presents the crime statics for the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year. Photo: GCIS

Argument, misunderstanding and retaliation are the three main motives for committing murder in South Africa.

Police Minister Bheki Cele released the crime statistics for the first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year in Pretoria on Friday. He said more than 6 000 people were killed from April to June 2022.

“This was an increase of 664 more people murdered, compared with the same period last year, when the country was under Covid-19 lockdown levels one and two.”

Revenge and vigilantism were the other motives for murder.

Cele singled out the Umlazi and Plessislaer police stations in KwaZulu-Natal, and Mthatha Police Station in the Eastern Cape as having registered the highest number of murder cases.

A total of 221 murder cases were reported in those three areas combined. The police ministry and the SAPS [SA Police Service] management recently met with Umlazi policing structures, as well as traditional and religious leaders, businesses and the youth in an effort to tighten policing in the area.

Meanwhile, sexual offences are seemingly on the decline.

“The first quarter of the 2022/23 financial year shows a decrease in the number of sexual offences such as rape, sexual assault, attempted sexual offences and contact sexual offences. There was a drop of over 800 cases of sexual offences [compared with the same period last year], which, far more often than not, are perpetrated on women.”

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Cele said that 9 516 rape cases were opened with the SAPS between April and June.

“This is almost 500 fewer rape cases reported compared with the same period last year. While rape cases declined in all provinces, the North West and Northern Cape are the only provinces to report increases in this crime category.”

He said that 3 780 of the rapes took place in the homes of either the assailant or the victim, while 1 546 people were raped in public places such as streets, parks and beaches.

The minister cited public transportation – buses, taxis and trains – as the third most reported location of the occurrence for rape.

“It is on this score that the SAPS will continue to prioritise gender-based violence-related crimes. Between April and June this year, 286 rapists were convicted through investigative work done by the police’s family violence, child protection and sexual offences [FCS] unit, which investigates crimes committed against women and children, and vulnerable groups.”

Cele said out of the 286 rape convictions, 46 of the rapists were sentenced to life behind bars.

While the majority of rapes take place behind closed doors and are hard to police, we are confident that the FCS detective work is preventing more rapes, hence the decrease in rape cases during the reporting period. Serial rapists are stopped in their tracks and such convictions ensure that these heartless rapists never rape again.

Cele said six offenders involved in 65 serial sexual offence cases were convicted.

“They will be serving a total of 20 life plus 886 years imprisonment. The SAPS continues to improve and positively respond to what has been declared a pandemic by President [Cyril Ramaphosa]. Evidence collection kits, also known as rape kits, and buccal sample kits continue to be procured and available for all victims of sexual crimes.”

Cele said the joint project between the National Prosecuting Authority and SAPS Forensic Science Laboratories continued to focus on the prioritisation of court-ready cases that have outstanding forensic reports.

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Farm murders also decreased in reporting period, compared with the same period last year.

“Heightened police visibility is yielding positive results. We are expanding police footprint even with limited resources. However, more of this [visible policing] and other operational interventions are still needed to ensure that South Africans are safe, especially in public spaces. As the police ministry, we maintain that policing is not done at police stations, but on the streets,” he said.