Thursday, July 5, 2007

19,000 people murdered in South Africa past 12 months.

Crime: Via Reuters.

Murders, carjackings and bank robberies rose in South Africa in the past 12 months, dealing a blow to efforts to reduce one of the world's highest crime rates before the country hosts the 2010 soccer World Cup.

Data from the South African Police Service released on Tuesday showed the murder rate was up 2.4 percent in the 12 months ending March 31, 2007. There were 19,202 murders in that period, compared with 18,528 in the previous 12 months.

South African authorities also reported bank robberies more than doubled and house robberies jumped 25 percent. Carjackings -- one of the crimes that frightens South Africans the most -- rose 6 percent.

The rise in certain types of violent crimes was a setback for police, who had targeted a 7 percent to 10 percent annual decrease for serious crimes.

South African officials noted, however, there had been a decrease in rapes, common robberies and several types of assault.

"The report on crime trends showed that crime levels in South Africa continue to drop. We are deeply concerned though that crime continues to be rife and that the crime rate continues to be high," Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula told a news conference after the report was released.

Africa's biggest economy is battling some of the worst crime rates in the world: some 50 people are murdered and around 150 women report being raped every day according to a report released in March by the Institute for Security Studies.

Reasons?

Analysts say the country's crime troubles are closely tied to widespread poverty and unemployment that continue to plague most of the population some 13 years after the end of white apartheid rule.

"There are various reasons for the crime problem we have in South Africa, and other parts of the world and that is poverty, unemployment, the influx of people into urban areas and the influx of illegal immigrants," University of South Africa Criminology Professor Coen Marais said.

"What seems to be a problem is that there is a culture of violence at the moment in South Africa and no respect at all for law enforcement," he added.

The sobering data came less than six months after President Thabo Mbeki acknowledged that many South Africans were living in fear of being murdered, raped or assaulted by criminals and vowed to beef up the police to make streets safer.

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