Crime stats: More women, children killed, attempted sexual offences rise by 45.6%

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Photo for illustration: Police minister Bheki Cele on 19 August 2022. PHOTO: The Citizen/Neil McCartney

Police Minister Bheki Cele presented the crime stats for the third quarter of 2022/2023 on Friday. The statistics cover the period from 1 October to 31 December 2022.

The murder rate increased when compared to the previous quarter, as did the murder of women and children.

Meanwhile, cash-in-transit heists and bank robberies decreased. Here’s a breakdown of the crime stats as presented on Friday. [1]

Crime Stat Q3: Oct to Dec 2022

Rape and sexual assault
Even though sexual offences overall decreased by 25.4%, serious offences such as rape increased by 9.8%, while sexual assault increased by 4.1%.

Worryingly, attempted sexual offences increased by 45.6%.

In addition, Cele said domestic violence and other violent crimes serve as “feeders” for rape and sexual assault.

Cele said 4 992 suspects were arrested during the third quarter for Gender-based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) related crimes, while 71 accused were sentenced to a combined 89 life sentences.

Cele said Saps will be “sharpening their responses to GBVF. In addition, the DNA Act (under the Criminal Law [Forensic Procedures] Amendment Act 37 of 2013) will be implemented on 3 March 2023. [2]

DNA Act to curb sexual offences
He said this act “is a crucial weapon in the police’s arsenal of crime-fighting tools against GBVF, specifically with regards to the identification of offenders.”.

The new amendment to the act (Criminal Law [Forensic Procedures] 8 of 2022) will “remove serial rapists off our streets,” he said.

The act requires that a buccal sample (a sample of cells taken from the inside of the mouth) be taken from a person serving a sentence of imprisonment.

Even if an accused refuses to give a sample, a judge or magistrate may issue a warrant to authorise the taking of the buccal sample.

As per the amendment, South Africa Police Service (SAPS) must submit quarterly reports on the progress made in taking samples from convicted criminals.

Murder and attempted murder
The crime stats for the third quarter show a significant increase from 6 163 murders reported during the same period last year, to 7 555 murders during the current quarter.

This is an increase of 841 murders (13.6%). Arguments, misunderstandings, road rage, and provocation were the leading causes of murder, accounting for 956 killings.

The murder of women and children continues to rise, with 989 women and 315 children under the age of 17 killed during the third quarter.

Cases of attempted murders increased the 24.3%, common robbery increased by 21.2% and robbery with aggravating circumstances increased by 10.8.

Most gang-related murders took place in the Western Cape, with 202 murders committed between October and December 2022.

Gun violence
Of the 7 555 people murdered during the quarter period, 3 144 were killed with firearms. However, Minister Cele said while gun violence remains an issue, it is part of a larger societal issue.

“Firearms are only part of a bigger problem. At the core of the matter is the human behaviour.”

He said gun violence “is problematic and poses a serious threat to lives and livelihoods [but] a broader conversation must be had about what is at the heart of violent crime in the country.”

He said South Africans “will have to be honest about the causes of violence” in order for it to be addressed properly.

Other announcements
The police minister said investigations in mass shootings in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape led to the arrest of several suspects.

The task team will also continue investigating political assassinations in KZN, adding that the police force will be “cleaning house and ridding the service of officers who choose to partner with rogue criminal elements.”

Saps also said intelligence-led operations to take down organized crime have increased. Officials will continue to stabilise the Crime Intelligence Division.

Cele also urged South African communities to be part of a Safety Partnership and assist the SAPS in combatting crime.

References:

[1] Crime stats, media invite.
[2] DNA Act.

Cheryl Kahla/ The Citizen