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July unrest pushed crime statistics up

Unrest sparked by former president Jacob Zuma’s arrest for contempt of court contributed to a spike in murders, arson and malicious damage to property, particularly in the hotspot provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The two provinces became the murder capitals of South Africa during the July 1 to September 30 period, accounting for 1 744 and 536 deaths respectively, of the total 6 163 total deaths recorded for that period.

On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele said that this was a 20.7% increase compared to the same period in 2019/2020.

“Among the many other factors that contributed to the increase in murders,” Cele said, “was the July unrest, which affected mostly KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.”

During this period, KZN recorded a 44.4% increase in murder cases as compared to the same period last year. In Gauteng, 229 people were murdered. Disgruntled Zuma supporters and crime-motivated individuals ransacked shops and burned infrastructure from July 9 to July 18.

Other provinces, however, such as Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Northern Cape and North West recorded double-digit increases in murder cases.

Cele said that the Western Cape was the only province that recorded a decrease in murders because of the resources that were dedicated to that province. The Western Cape is notorious for gangsterism.

Cele said:Out of the top 30 murder stations, the Harare, Khayelitsha and Nyanga police stations in Western Cape recorded decreases in their murder figures.

Homes topped the list as the most likely places for people to be killed. Other places were streets, open fields, parking areas and abandoned buildings. Liquor outlets were the third most likely place to be killed.

KZN also led in the number of police officer murders. Out of 23 cops killed in the country, six were killed in KZN and four in the Western Cape and Gauteng.

Fifteen farm murders were recorded – an increase of two from the previous period.

Rapes recorded increased by 7.1%

While KZN and Gauteng were deemed murder capitals, areas serviced by the police stations of Temba (Gauteng), Thohoyandou (Limpopo), Lusikisiki (Eastern Cape) and Inanda (KZN) were the rape capitals of the country.

Cele said that 9 556 rapes were reported, an increase of 634 cases.

He said that 400 rape cases were domestic violence-related, meaning that the victim and rapist were in a relationship. He said that out of a sample of 6 144 cases, 3 951 took place at the home of the victim or the rapist.

“With almost 10 000 people being brutalised and sexually violated in just three months in South Africa, it is a disgrace and deeply disturbing,” Cele said.

The minister said that 134 gender-based violence desks had been established in police stations and more would be rolled out. He said that a turnaround strategy was being implemented to tackle the DNA backlog at SAPS forensic science laboratories.

Gauteng tops in ransom-related kidnappings

Kidnappings also increased, said Cele, with 2 000 cases being reported. Most of the kidnappings were related to hijackings, followed by robbery and rape. In a sample of 620, 52 kidnappings were ransom-related and mostly happened in Gauteng.

Seven were as a result of human trafficking.

The July unrest lead to a 30.2% spike in arson and malicious damage to property. Cele said that all contact-related crimes such as arson and malicious damage to property increased by 238. There were 28 988 cases reported between July and September.

He said: The quarter two crime figures demonstrate the extent of the wanton looting, arson and damage to property and loss of life that occurred during the July unrest.

Cash heists

Cash heists, Cele said, showed a marked 18.8% decrease. This could be attributed to heightened police visibility and interception through intelligence. There were 12 fewer heists as compared to the same period last year, Cele said.

“However, 52 such attacks in three months is unacceptable and police must firmly respond,” he said.

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