SA’s top 20 places to be killed

2011-09-17 00:00

THREE police precincts in KwaZulu-Natal are in the top 20 list of South Africa’s most likely places to be murdered.

Even though Port Shepstone, Empangeni and Umhlali rank low on the list of the 20 worst precincts for murder, at about 77 murders per 100 000 of the population they still rank well over the national average of 31,9 per 100 000.

The most dangerous neighbourhood in the country is Bloemspruit, consisting of sprawling informal settlements and smallholdings east of Bloemfontein, where the murder rate is more than 170 per 100 000 — six times above the national average.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) crunched the latest crime statistics released by the national police minister last week to determine the country’s most dangerous areas for murder, attempted murder, assault and kidnapping per capita.

The rate per 100 000 is an accurate indicator of a person’s risk of becoming a vicitm of crime. National police statistics do not report per capita rates at precinct level, only at national and provincial levels.

Police statistics for last year showed that overall there had been fewer major crimes such as murder, attempted murder, assault and sexual crimes and while following this trend, KZN had the third highest number of murders.

Veteran KwaZulu-Natal violence monitor Mary de Haas said she was surprised that the three stations had surpassed areas such as Plessislaer, Inanda and Umlazi in murders and that more research was needed about these differences.

“Despite the decrease in serious crimes, people still feel as unsafe as ever, regardless of the area they live in, including when they travel because of hijacking,” she said

Lizette Lancaster, project manager of the ISS Crime and Justice Information Hub, said expressing crime statistics in relation to the population gave a more accurate insight into crime trends and how people were affected.

“The police take the total population, divided by the number of murders,” Lancaster said, “so a hundred murder cases in a place like Hillbrow, with more than 258 000 people will be viewed the same as a hundred murder cases in Hogsback, with less than 2 000 inhabitants,” she explained.

The top 10 all have a rate over three times higher than the country’s average of 31,9 per 100 000.

Bloemspruit’s grim statistics echo longstanding press coverage about farm murders, attacks on the elderly, burglary and rape and policing problems like a shortage of police vehicles, police arriving late at crime scenes and a lack of feedback on investigations. High unemployment, population density and alcohol abuse threaten the rapidly expanding area.

Seven of the top ten precincts for murder are in the Cape Peninsula, dispelling the myth that Gauteng is the murder mecca of the country.

Police are concerned that while the national murder rate has dropped slightly, areas like Gugulethu and Harare have seen substantial increases of over 20% and in Langa, more than 40%. While the Western Cape’s murder rate rose by 4,2%, Gauteng fell by 11%.

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