The SA Police Service (SAPS) has made a blood curdling revelation that 736 of the 21 022 murders recorded over the last financial year were committed by children.
Police Minister Bheki Cele and a delegation from the SAPS appeared before Parliament’s portfolio committee this morning to announce the annual crime statistics. Cele began with a disclaimer that the figures were anything but, “rosy”.
Major-General Norman Sekhukhune delivered the grim news that murder had increased by 3.4% – with 686 more murders than last year. Sexual offences increased by 4.6%, 2 312 more than last year, making the figure for this past year 52 420. Attempted murder is up by 4.1% with 741 more cases recorded than the previous financial year.
The Western Cape continues to record the highest number of murders with six of the provinces police stations making the top 10 for murder namely: Nyanga, Delft, Khayelitsha, Philippi East, Harare and Gugulethu.
These figures exclude the recent spate of murders where up to 30 people were killed per weekend. The figures released today are from April last year to March this year.
Sekhukhune gave the example of a recent case where a 17-year-old boy killed a 14-year-old boy at a school over a cellphone.
“In some instances, it is the very same children who are killing their peers. In instances of murder committed by children, the highest cases were in the Eastern Cape, with 231 and the Western Cape with 170 which might not exclude the reasons that these may also be gang related,” he said.
He also said that the highest number of murders – 14 796 – were committed over weekends, from Friday to Monday, suggesting that the use of alcohol and drugs contributed to the higher murder rate.
Cele added that in most murder cases, the crime was committed by a person known to the victim and could be labelled as “crimes of passion”.
Committing to working with civil society organisations and academia, Cele said there was a need for experts to assist with the psychology of what was bringing about the chilling statistics.
Looking back at the past 10 years, the committee was told a story of the country being in a losing battle with crime – particularly murders – which have steadily increased over the past six years.
Rape in particular – which falls under the sexual offences category – has increased by 3.9% with 1 548 more cases recorded than the previous year, putting the total at 41 583.
These are the cases which have been reported at police stations and there’s no way of knowing how many cases go unreported.
Committee member Pieter Groenewald said that it was clear from the shocking figures that South Africa is in fact “a violent country”.