Police Minister General Bheki Cele released the quarter two crime statistics of the 2022/2023 season on Wednesday, 23 November 2022. These statistics reflect crimes reported to the South African Police Service (SAPS) from 1 July to 30 September 2022. The numbers released are worrying as there has been a significant increase in crimes against women and children. Within the three months, over 13 000 women were victims of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, the report stated.
"In the three months of reporting, a double-digit percentage increase was recorded for murder, attempted murder, and assault GBH against women," Cele said. "1 277 women were victims of attempted murder, and 989 women were murdered during this reporting period," he added. Previous figures from the World Health Organisation indicated that in 2020, 12.1 out of 100 000 women in South Africa were victims of femicide, which was five times higher than the global average of 2.6 per 100,000 women.
The year's headlines chronicled some of the heinous acts of femicide in the country. Some that shook the nation include Sedika Lekhobo, the 14-year-old girl whose body was found in a cemetery in Vryburg, North West. In addition, 28-year-old Hillary Gardee went missing in Mbombela in April, and her body was found next to a pine plantation 40km outside Mbombela with a gunshot wound. Finally, in August, news broke of two Grade 12 girls in KwaZulu-Natal whose bodies were hacked to death by axe and were found dismembered on the south coast.
"Shockingly, in just six months, 558 children were killed in South Africa from April to the end of September 2022," Cele reported. "Police are investigating attempted murder dockets of 294 children from July to September 2022." Children, one of the country's most vulnerable demographics, fall victim to kidnappings, rape, and brutal murders, such as four-year-old Bokgabo Poo, who was killed last month. Poo's killer, Ntokozo Khulekani Zikhali, was on bail for allegedly raping a nine-year-old girl. This is a regular occurrence within the South African system, where dangerous criminals are released on bail, giving them endless opportunities to commit more crimes. "If the law had done its job properly, he would still be behind bars, and probably my daughter would still be alive today," said Irvin Ndlovu, Poo's father, to the media after an appearance at the Benoni Magistrate's Court.
A 2022 crime index report by Statista places South African cities at the top. Taking the top five spots are Pretoria, which ranks first with a crime index of approximately 82 points; Johannesburg, with an index of 80.73 points, Durban with an index of 80.6; Cape Town, with an index of 74.4 and Bloemfontein, with an index of about 70.
Minister General Bheki Cele's report came just two days before the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign. The campaign advocates for No Violence against Women and Children, and multiple workshops are held to spread knowledge on the severity of GBV in the country. It is disheartening to know that despite such efforts, GBV, murder, and rape cases are rising in South Africa. Women and children cannot walk freely in their own country without debilitating fear of being harmed. More needs to be done to ensure the safety of these marginalised groups before more innocent lives are lost.