Friday, September 21, 2012

South Africa’s Murder Stats – Envisioning the enormity of the horror

Murder Stats South Africa: April 2002 - March 2012

182 935 people have been murdered in South Africa during the past 10 years. This is according to the national crime statistics released by the South African Police. This figure seems featureless when we merely see it printed on paper or displayed on a screen… In other words, the mind has difficultly visualizing the magnitude thereof, even when the number is expressed in words:

One Hundred Eighty-Two Thousand Nine Hundred Thirty-Five
(182 935)

For most of us it is extremely hard to imagine what one hundred eighty-two thousand nine hundred and thirty-five murdered people look like. Many of us would prefer to not even try. But, whether you like it or not (you can always leave) this posting is going assist your mind to envision the enormity of this horror by comparing it to something the majority of South Africans are quite familiar with.

Kings Park stadium in Durban has a maximum capacity of 55,000. In other words, three times that amount (165,000) does not even come near the number of people murdered in the country during the past 10 years.

The FNB Stadium (Soccer City) in Johannesburg is the largest stadium in Africa with a capacity of 94,736. The picture below should give viewers a general idea of what it looks like to have so many people gathered in one place… Yet the massive crowd seen in this picture comes nowhere near the figure of 182,935. One full capacity sports-session in this stadium would more-or-less represent the number of people murdered in South Africa during the past five and a half years.

FNB Stadium
The FNB Stadium (Soccer City) in Johannesburg

If the sheer horror of South Africa’s murder stats does not boggle your mind when perceived in a comparative approach, then I’m afraid there’s something seriously wrong with your mind!

If saving animals, like the Rhino for example, is your ultimate mission in life, and the murder of flesh-and-blood human beings is of no concern to you whatsoever, then I’m afraid your priorities are seriously stuffed-up! Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all for saving the Rhino, the Elephant, and all Planet Earth’s other beautiful endangered species, but I do not see a healthy balance in this regard as far as awareness campaigns are concerned… WAKE UP PEOPLE!

10 Years - 182935 Murders - South Africa

  • SA Police Crime Statistics Overview RSA 2011/2012 (PDF – 2.5MB)
  • SA Police Murder Stats for April to March 2004/2005 to 2011/2012 (PDF – 55.7Kb)
  • The 2003/2004 Murder Stats (19 824) were obtained from data provided in a report supplied by (PDF – 376Kb). The stats in this report compares accurately with several other reports provided by the SA Police.

There have been numerous press reports on the manipulation of crime statistics in South Africa that have highlighted the existence of incentives not to record violent crime. The most noteworthy commentary on this issue can be found in a document compiled by David Bruce (Institute for Security Studies). The document deals mainly with the reliability of violent crime statistics and has a whole chapter (with references) dealing with press reports of the manipulation of crime statistics in South Africa. (PDF – 1.3MB) - The following is an extract from the chapter:

In recent years there have been persistent reports in the press about the 'cooking of crime statistics' by police. In a selection of press articles on the matter, allegations relating to such manipulation are made in relation to five of South Africa's nine provinces. In this selection of press articles, eleven different police stations in the Western Cape, four stations in Gauteng, one station in KwaZulu-Natal and one station in Limpopo are alleged to have manipulated crime statistics. Whilst not referring to any single police station, a brief press report in January 2010 also referred to an ICD investigation that pointed to various 'irregularities' in the SAPS in the Free State, including the 'manipulation of crime statistics'.

One prominent example is the Mountain Rise police station in Pietermaritzburg. In June 2009 press reports indicated that a SAPS inspector at the station had been suspended after alleging that statistics at the station were being manipulated. It was claimed that police at the station were instructed not to record criminal complaints unless the suspects were immediately available or facts easily ascertainable. Unrecorded dockets were allegedly kept aside in a separate room and eventually burnt. The practice had become institutionalised on the instructions of the station commissioner who had been deployed to the station early in 2007. The inspector was subsequently reinstated (and apparently seconded to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation) whilst an ICD investigation confirmed the allegations and culminated in a recommendation that disciplinary action be taken against the station commissioner.

Also in June 2009, the Western Cape MEC for Safety and Security, Lennit Max, went public with allegations that at the police stations in Paarl, Paarl East, Mbekweni, Wellington and Oudtshoorn, cases were downgraded (i.e. offences were recorded as less serious than had been reported) or not recorded at all. Max is reported to have said that he feared the manipulation of crime statistics he had so far been notified of was only a fraction of what had occurred at the province's 147 police stations. Press reports in October 2009 also indicated that an SAPS disciplinary process had found the station commissioner and others at the Lansdowne police station guilty of tampering with crime statistics.

Another press article referred to a leaked internal report sent to the Western Cape provincial commissioner in December 2006, indicating that 'quite a substantial number of stations are involved in manipulation'. The report referred specifically to the Porterville, Piketberg and Paarl East police stations. A report in June 2007 referred to such manipulation at the Bishop Lavis police station, with other reports in 2007 and 2008 referring to similar practices at the Knysna and Gugulethu police stations.17 Subsequent press reports appeared to confirm the existence of evidence of cases systematically not being recorded at the Knysna police station…. Click here to download the full (ISS) document – (PDF – 1.3MB).

Murders in South Africa: Jan 1994 to Dec 2002
Data sourced from:


whiteson said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Tia, this is absolutely shocking! I, myself did'nt see it the way you explained it. That is a LOT of people, murdered for what? This animal like behaviour will probably stay with us for some time. Thanks for this revealing one. Even though I was a senior police officer, I could'nt imagine the numbers.

Anonymous said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

If you think saving rhinoes is less important than humans then why the fuck are you advertising "save the rhino books" on your site?


Tia Mysoa said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

@Anon 12:16 AM
I suppose you missed the parts that read: “ultimate mission” and “I’m all for saving the Rhino... but I do not see a healthy balance in this regard…”

I’m afraid your intellect and the language you use to express yourself have revealed how seriously stuffed-up you are… Shame, maybe you should visit a shrink and someone who can teach you the meaning of the term “prioritize”, how to spell the word “Rhino's”, AND some manners as well!

OuJan said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

More than 300 million people reside in the USA and their murder rate is roughly 5 per 100 000. South Africa "boasts" a staggering 30.9!

Thus, in a country housing (roughly) 6 times less people than the US, your chances of getting murdered are 6 times greater.

ruma parvian said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

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