Photo: GCIS / Flickr

Crime Statistics SA: More than 5000 murdered, many in public spaces

These are the public spaces where thousands of people were murdered between April and June 2021 according to the latest crime data.


Photo: GCIS / Flickr

South Africa continues to face a spiralling murder rate even when statistics are compared to a “normal” period before the Covid-19 lockdowns the latest police crime data has revealed.

And most victims were murdered in public places like streets, open fields and parking lots, the latest data shows. Liquor outlets also featured in the data as the fourth most likely place to be killed in Mzansi.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, who announced the 2021 first quarter crime statistics at a media briefing on Friday, said that it was important to contextualise the data, which showed a 60,6% spike in contact crimes, including murder and attempted murder, compared to the low-crime, level 5 lockdown period in the first quarter of 2020. A more realistic comparison showed that murders had spiked by 6,7% compared to the same period in 2019, Cele said.

“It is important for us to give this particular context and adequate explanation upfront, to mitigate the shock and fears that may arise at this juncture. Equally the lockdown crime trends and figures should not be thrown into the political battlefield for poor political point scoring but instead this should begin to properly define the impact of the pandemic,” Cele said. 

“The sub- categories of crimes such as contact crimes, sexual offences, aggravated robberies, contact-related and property-related crimes have recorded a never seen before double digit increases,” he said.

“Ordinarily, this would have been catastrophic but I assure the nation, this is not the case.  We cannot compare the same period of this year and last year, due to the skewed and abnormal crime trends, caused by the different levels of lockdown, if we are to understand this crime picture that we are presenting,” Cele said.

However, he said he would not “sweep the high and unnatural figures under the carpet” but would presented “a holistic picture” by comparing the 2021/22 first quarter crime figures to a ‘normal period’ two years ago where there was no lockdown.

“Contact crimes such as murder, attempted murder, sexual offences and all categories of assault registered a 60,6% increase, compared to the corresponding period of the previous financial year.  

In the three months of reporting, a 66, 2 % increase in murder was recorded.

However compared to the previous normal period of 2019/2020 financial year, the murder rate would have increased by 6.7%. A total of 5760 people were killed between April 2021 to the end of June 2021, this was 2 294 more murders than in 2020.

“Compared to a period without Lockdown, it would result in an increase of 362 more deaths,” Cele said.

Out of the Top 30 murder stations, the Khayelitsha, Phillipi East and Bityi police stations in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape recorded decreases in their murder figures. But despite these drops, the murder volume remained high.

Cele said that from a sample of 4 467 cases a total of 2 531 people had been murdered in public places like on the street, in open fields, parking areas and abandoned buildings. Some 1 385 murders occurred at the home of the victim or of the perpetrator. A total of 206 of the murders occurred at liquor outlets, which are the fourth most likely place to be killed in the country.

“Overall, contact crimes increased by 60.6% compared to the skewed same period last year, If comparison was made to the normal period, prior to the country being placed under lockdown Level 5, 4 and 3, this would have resulted in an increase of 0.6%,” Cele said.

 The top four causes of the murders were arguments, robberies, mob justice incidents and gang-related killings.