South Africa's Violent Crime Rate Escalates in 2007

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South Africa's crime statistics for the period between April 2006 and March 2007 have now been released by the government, and they paint a grim picture indeed of a country gripped by an ever-increasing epidemic of violent crime.

In the past year there were 19,202 murders committed in South Africa. That's 'only' a 3.5% increase from the previous year. The ANC, South Africa's governing political party, does not accept that the situation is either a crisis or out of control.

When other countries point out that South Africa has the highest murder rate in the world per capita the government insists that those countries are racially motivated in their criticism or trying to mask their own equally serious crime problems.

Over the past six years there have been 119,305 reported murders in South Africa. There have been more murders committed in South Africa over the past 30 months alone than there were in the UK in the period dating back to 1898.

There were some barely visible silver linings in the statistics: Vehicle theft barely increased by 0.4% from last year's statistics, while residential burglaries actually dropped by nearly 5%.

86,298 stolen vehicles will still keep the car insurance underwriters very busy in 2007.

There were still an astounding quarter-of-a-million South African residences that reported burglaries in the past year, and according to a spokesman for Dial Direct the number of claims for stolen cellphones and laptop computers suggest that property theft is still a serious cause for concern.

But the bottom line is that the level of violent crime is incomparable and frankly inconceivable for a country that is not at war.

Interpol figures that were released in 2002 established South Africa as having the world's highest murder rate with 114.8 murders per 100,000 inhabitants. In the intervening five year period, despite what the ANC might claim, the statistics certainly indicate that the murder rate has increased substantially, and walking around South Africa without plenty of life insurance is probably foolhardy.

The supposedly good news is that the number of reported rapes and attempted murders declined from the previous year. The latter may well be attributed to an increase in tenacity and improved technique on the part of the assailants. The former is tempered by the fact that there were still 52,617 new rape victims in South Africa, surely an unacceptable number in a society that claims to be civilized?

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MARC WEINBERG
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