Drop in murder rate ‘won’t bring my daughter back’

2010-09-09 15:09

The drop in South Africa’s murder rate is little consolation to the family members of murder victims, among them Elsie Rapitso, whose daughter Shadi’s throat was slit in October 2009.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa today announced an 8.6% drop in the murder rate since 1995, bringing the number of reported cases in 2009/10 to 16 834.

However, this does nothing to console Rapitso: “Even though the police are doing their job, people are still killing each other.”

“It is difficult to forgive people who kill others because they cause a lot of harm.”

Police spokesperson Zweli Mnisi said the decline in the murder rate could be attributed to a number of factors, including the community’s confidence in the police.

“Some of the factors include a partnership we have with communities and the fact that our means of fighting crime is getting tougher and smarter,” he said.

He was hopeful that the trend would continue. “This is good news. Come this time next year, we hope for a further reduction.”

But Professor Kopano Ratele, a co-director at the Medical Research Council’s Crime, Violence and Injury Research Unit, believes it is not yet time to celebrate. He calls the murder rate “astronomical”.

“You only get these numbers in times of war. There is nothing to be happy about,” he said.

According to Ratele, police need a crime-fighting strategy that includes other departments, such as health, finance and justice, and crime prevention that is proactive rather than reactive.

» Shadi, a former City Press and e.tv journalist, was allegedly murdered by a stalker. The accused, Patrick Malgas, was arrested and is expected to stand trial in April 2011.

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