South Africans are killing relatives and acquaintances at an alarming rate
According to an annual police report on crime, nearly 50 people killed every day across the country - a figure that will likely add to South Africa's reputation as a violent society.
The government is desperate to counter the country's violent image, especially in the run-up to the soccer World Cup in 2010, and point out that murder is at its lowest level for five years.
Yet, the report said the number of murders over the year totaled 18,528, and four of every five victims knew their attackers.
Rapes totaled a staggering 54,926. There was little decrease in the number of murder and rapes.
"These crimes are committed behind closed doors, in secluded spots," said Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula.
Chief police statistician Chris de Kock said these crimes are often exacerbated by alcohol and drug abuse, making them difficult to combat with conventional policing methods. "You would have to have a policeman in every house."
Overall, large robberies showed the largest increase, up 74.1 percent from 220 to 383. the report said.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has raised concern about an increasing sense of lawlessness in South Africa.
"What has happened to us? It seems as if we have perverted our freedom, our rights into license, into being irresponsible. Rights go hand in hand with responsibility, with dignity, with respect for oneself and the other," Tutu said in a lecture Tuesday night.
Tutu, a leader in the anti-apartheid movement, decried the rape of children, some as young as nine months, and South Africa's staggering murder rate.
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