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No end in sight for S.Africa crime wave

By AFP
South Africa Crime wave: 14 people were killed in a shootout in a Soweto bar in July.  By Ihsaan HAFFEJEE AFP
NOV 23, 2022 LISTEN
Crime wave: 14 people were killed in a shootout in a Soweto bar in July. By Ihsaan HAFFEJEE (AFP)

An onslaught of violent crime afflicting South Africa shows no sign of abating, according to police statistics released Wednesday that detailed a further surge in murders and kidnappings.

Rapes, in a country notorious for sex attacks against women and children, also recorded a huge jump.

Kidnappings doubled to more than 4,000 in the three months between July and September, compared to the same time last year.

Quarterly figures said that more than 7,000 people, including almost 1,000 women, were murdered over the period, up 14 percent on the same timeframe in 2021.

Rapes were up 11 percent, with 10,000 cases opened across the country.

Carjackings rose 24 percent to more than 6,000.

More than 550 children were killed between April and September.

"The crime statistics again show that we as communities continue to fail to protect some of the most vulnerable in society: our children," Police Minister Bheki Cele told a press conference.

He promised that 10,000 new recruits would be ready to join the police force ahead of the Christmas and New Year period, when crime typically rises.

Their deployment "will intensify police visibility during the festive season and beyond," he said. "Nothing will replace fighting crime (better) than warm bodies."

The country's largest labour confederation COSATU last month said the force's headcount has declined by nearly 30,000 over the past decade from over 200,000 to 172,000.

Cele, who is under fire over the crime wave, noted that from July to September last year, South Africa was under various levels of coronavirus lockdown, with restrictions on many activities.

But that will be of little consolation for many South Africans who have grown accustomed to bleak police bulletins.

"The bloodbath of violent crime remains out of control across the country with millions of people living in fear," said Andrew Whitfield, a lawmaker with the largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Cele.

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