Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Murders, carjackings and violent robberies are on the rise in South Africa

Paul Simao:

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

The news 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.

That effort has not yet borne fruit, according to the South African Police Service (SAPS), which reported on Tuesday that the country's murder rate jumped 2.4 percent between April 1, 2006 and March 31, 2007.

There were 19,202 murders during the period, the annual crime statistics showed.

Bank robberies more than doubled and cash-in-transit heists were up almost 22 percent, according to authorities. Burglaries and carjackings -- two crimes often on the minds of South Africans -- registered sharp increases as well.

"The fact that instances of serious and violent crime are very high is disconcerting and unacceptable," Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said in a press conference in the capital Pretoria after the data was released.

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