Cele rejected suggestions that "heads should roll" within the police in response to the statistics.
Parliament – South Africa’s murder rate increased by 1.4 percent, meaning 57 people are murdered daily, and sexual assault crimes increased by 4.6 percent in the past financial year, according to statistics released on Thursday.
Police Minister Bheki Cele conceded that the figures “do not look good” and said police would work to halve violent crime within less than the 10-year deadline set by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“From this department, we believe that ten years is too long to achieve this,” the minister said.
Cele, national police commissioner Khehla Sitole and his team presented the annual crime statistics to Parliament’s police portfolio committee on Thursday morning, before holding a media briefing.
The total numbers of murders recorded were 21 022. This marks an increase of 686 from the previous reporting year.
Some 60 percent of murders happened over weekends, which suggested that these were fueled by alcohol and drug abuse.
Cele said a very high number of murder victims were killed by people who they knew, hence these were not murders that may have been prevented by better policing.
“It will be very difficult for the police to police such cases where people know each other,” Cele said.
Attempted murder grew 4.1 percent to 18 980, while assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm was up 2.2 percent to 170 979.
Rape and sexual assault was also on the rise, reaching 52 420 cases reported. This marks a 4.6 percent increase compared to the previous year, and comes amid mounting pressure on Ramaphosa to announce tougher measures to fight violence against women and children.
Cele said they had immediately begun implementing Ramaphosa’s recent directive to reopen old, unsolved sexual offences cases.
He noted that the increase in the murder rate was half the increase registered in the 2017-18 financial year, but said the figures were still unacceptable and required a concerted effort to stem the tide of violent deaths.
“686 is a lot of people,” he said referring to the additional number of murder victims.
The minister recalled that the murder rate declined steadily by around 1 000 cases a year up to 2012, reaching an annual toll of 15 000 at its lowest point, before surging again in the past seven years.
Had the decline continued at that pace, the number of people murdered last year would have been about 7 000.
The fact that the figure was three times higher, was a result of police not continuing tried and tested practices that had an impact on violent crime.
“To move from there up is a question of us dropping the ball.”
He said police would heed a call to bring back specialised units and needed to work with non-governmental organisations and communities as this had shown to be effective. Cele rejected suggestions that “heads should roll” within the police in response to the statistics.
African News Agency/ANA