South Africa 'close to war zone' with 57 murders a day: minister

FILE The scene of a cash-in-transit heist in Boksburg

He said murders of women and children had also increased.

This translates to an average of 57 people murdered every day, up from an average of 52 people in 2016-2017.

Police have released crime statistics showing 20,336 people were murdered in South Africa between April 2017 and March, compared to 19,016 in the previous year.

"We are concerned with the one of the biggest increases in murder since the advent of democracy in 1994", Gareth Newman, director for crime and justice programme at the Pretoria-based Institute of Security Studies (ISS) told AFP. At least 20 336 murders were recorded nationally.

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He said the murder statistics "borders close to a war zone‚ while there is peace and there is no war in SA". "The other four have gone down that is assault GBH, assault common robbery, and robbery with aggravating circumstances and the overall broad category of contact crimes have decreased by 1.1%", said Sekhukhune.

The province with the highest number of murders was Western Cape, which includes Cape Town - the country's top tourist hub - followed by Gauteng, the seat of the capital Pretoria and the economic hub of Johannesburg.

Cele, who took over from former police minister Fikile Mbalula in February, had attempted to clamp down on criminal activity in South Africa, especially violent crimes such as murders and hijackings. For 2017-2018, cash-in-transit heists rose by 50%. Cele dismissed this, and said that this notion needed to be dismantled. We have to pick up the ball and change the situation for the better'.

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