When Police Minister Bheki Cele released the South African crime stats for 2017/2018, he described them as those of a “war zone”.
Considering that an average of 57 people are murdered each and every day, which was an increase of almost 7% on the previous year, was he justified in making such a comparison?
You can see the rest of the rather depressing stats here.
Those stats were shared far and wide, and you can bet that bitter expats around the world got quite a kick out of telling anyone who would listen.
They probably spoke less about the farm murder stats, though.
The BBC caught wind of the stats and decided to do a comparison of sorts, starting with the countries with the highest murder rates in 2015:
Our murder rate has increased since then, but we are still quite some way behind that top three.
Next, how do we compare to actual war zones:
…one could look at murders in South Africa alongside figures for conflict-related killings. These figures aren’t directly comparable but do provide a useful indictor of the scale of South Africa’s murder rate.
We haven’t added the number of murders in war zones to the figures for conflict-related because there may be an overlap in the statistics, or a lack of reporting…
So while the overall murder rate in South Africa is very high, the level of killing is lower than in all the conflict-affected countries considered here, even without taking into account non-conflict related murders in those countries.
Not exactly something to be proud of, but we’re not literally as dangerous as a war zone. Unless you’re a woman in this country.
The BBC did end off with this rather damning assessment:
According to ISS’ Crime Hub, several precincts have a murder rate estimated at more than 100 per 100,000. That’s higher than in most of the war zones considered above.
In Philippi East, a township of Cape Town, the rate was estimated at 323.4 per 100,000. It was 214.52 in Madeira in the Eastern Cape province and 177.3 at Pietermaritzburg’s central city station in KwaZulu-Natal.
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