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South Africa murders surged in final months of 2020

South Africa, which has one of the highest crimes rates in the world, saw murders jump more than six percent in the last three months of 2020, police data showed Friday.

At least 389 people more were killed during the period than the previous year, police minister Bheki Cele announced, accentuating the grim crime statistics in Africa’s most industrialised country.

The uptick corresponds with the country easing some of its movement restrictions imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus.

It enjoyed a lull in crime between March and June, when it imposed strict stay-at-home curbs, including a ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol.

The numbers “do not paint a good picture”, Cele admitted.

In October, November and December of 2020, “2,481 people were murdered in public places like on the street, open field, parking areas and abandoned buildings” he said.

Mpumalanga province, which borders Swaziland and Mozambique, saw murders rise by 13.7 percent, the highest increase in the country.

Liquor outlets were the third most likely place to be killed.

Arguments, robberies, mob justice incidents and gang-related killings were the main factors in the murders, Cele said.

During the three months, police recorded 12,218 rapes, an average of nearly 134 per day and representing a 1.5 percent jump compared to the same period the previous year.

“Over 4,900 of the rape incidents took place at the home of the victim or the home of the rapist,” Cele said.

“Assault figures show that violence stalks our society and in many cases the violence is aggravated by alcohol abuse,” added the minister.

There was, however, a reprieve for property owners as burglaries reported a drop. Theft of motor vehicles also reduced by more than 20 percent, the data showed.

To date, the country has counted nearly 1.5 million Covid-19 cases of which close to 49,000 have been fatal — representing nearly half of the deaths and reported cases on the continent.