South Africa crime: Police figures show rising murder and sexual offences

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A protest against sexual violence

Sexual offences and murder rates have risen significantly in South Africa over the past year, according to new official crime figures.

Murders recorded by by the police are now at their highest level for a decade, and sexual offences including rape have risen by 4.6% since last year.

The release of the figures comes amid growing concern about violence against women after a number of high-profile rape cases and murders in recent weeks.

Thousands of people took to the streets earlier this month to protest against the attacks.

Which crimes are getting worse?

Amongst sexual offences, the figures show sexual assault increased by 9.6% and rape by 3.9%

For crimes detected by the police as a result of their own activities (rather than reported by the public) there was a 19% increase in recorded sexual offences.

Crimes with the biggest increases*Sexual assault not including rapeSource: South Africa national crime statistics

There were also increases in arson (5.5%), attempted murder (4.1%), and common assault (3.7%).

However, recorded robberies and thefts from property or vehicles have shown decreases over the past year.

What are the longer-term trends?

Murder rates in South Africa have been steadily rising since 2011-12 according to official figures.

In that year, there were 15,554 recorded murders. By 2018-19, this figure had increased to 21,022.

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In a statement on the release of the latest figures, the Minister of Police Bheki Cele, said reversing the rising murder trend of the last six years was a “mammoth task, but is doable”.

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Last year, there were a total of 52,420 recorded sexual offences.

This is lower than for the period 2009-15, but over the past three years the rate has been increasing.

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