Letter: Crime is at a critical level now in SA - Mercury

30 September 2020 - The recent high-profile murder of police investigator Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear heightens public concerns about rising crime during the economic downturn, with statistics showing that South Africans are distressingly vulnerable to stubbornly high levels of violent crime.

The recent high-profile murder of police investigator Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear heightens public concerns about rising crime during the economic downturn, with statistics showing that South Africans are distressingly vulnerable to stubbornly high levels of violent crime.

Murder rates, in particular, have remained consistently high over the past three years. In a global seting, only two countries with large populations – Brazil and Venezuela – have murder rates higher than South Africa’s.

These and other findings are reflected in a recent edition of FreeFACTS, the Institute of Race Relations’ (IRR) monthy digest of socio-economic data.

Key takeaways on crime are that:

The murder rate in 2019/2020 is at its highest since 2002/2003, at 36 per 100 000 people – the third highest murder rate of countries with large populations;
The rate of aggravated robberies has increased steadily over the past decade – from 203 per 100 000 people in 2010/2011 to 242 per 100 000 people in 2019/2020; and
Only drug-related crime rates have improved in recent years, having decreased significantly from 570 per 100 000 people in 2017/2018 to 286 per 100 000 people in 2019/2020.

Crime levels of this nature are likely attributable to long-term shortcomings in effective policing by the South African Police Service (SAPS), and that institutional weaknesses within SAPS.

This is unfortunately not a problem only in policing. Over the past decade there has been a significant hollowing out of many of our institutions, which has significant implications for the future success of this country.

Marius Roodt, Institute of Race Relations

© 2018 South African Institute of Race Relations
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