Over 7,000 Killed in South Africa in 3 Months as Crime Soars

Published: 25 November 2022

Pretoria ViewPretoria, notorious for gang violence, ranks as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. (Photo: South African Tourism, Flickr, License)

By Josef Skrdlik

More than 7,000 people were killed in South Africa from June to September, representing a 14 percent increase compared to the same period last year, according to the latest crime statistics released by the South African Police Service.

Marked increases were recorded in all categories of violent crime ranging from robbery and physical assault to carjacking and kidnapping. Robbery, for example, was up by 22 percent, while kidnappings doubled from 2,000 reported cases last year to 4,000.

“The crime figures show that aggression and violence are at worrying levels in South Africa,” said Police Minister Bheki Cele during the release of the crime report.

While some of the increase can be attributed to the COVID lockdown last year, violent crime has been steadily growing over the past decade, making South Africa rank among 10 most violent countries in the world as measured by its homicide rate.

The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, said that the statistics confirm that violent crime is out of control, comparing South Africa to a war zone where millions of people live in fear.

According to Anton du Plessis, the Executive Director of the Institute of Security Studies, organized criminal gangs are to blame for the spike in violence. “Organized crime lies behind and connects most criminality in South Africa,” he wrote in local media. This includes “murder, taxi violence, infrastructure theft and destruction, wildlife crime, complex corruption, extortion, kidnapping, terrorism and even household robberies.”

A recent report by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime linked the roots of South Africa’s crime problem to the apartheid legacy of extreme inequality and neglect of poorer areas by the state, exacerbated by a systemic undermining of state institutions under former President Jacob Zuma.

The report said that criminal activity has reached a level at which it poses an existential threat to South Africa’s democratic institutions and economy.