The SA Cities Network report released on Thursday showed that almost 2500 people were murdered in Cape Town in the 2017/18 reporting period, which is 69 murders per 100 000 people.
Cape Town continues to buck the trend, with a murder rate that has steadily risen since 2009/10, increasing by almost 70% between 2009/10 and 2017/18, despite stabilising over three years (2014/15 to 2016/17).
The increase in the murder rate in Cape Town is presumably driven by gang violence, which has been exacerbated by the supply of thousands of illegal firearms to criminal gangs. Police investigations and court proceedings have implicated corrupt police officials as one source of the illegal firearms. There was evidence to suggest that similar illegal firearm transfers into Nelson Mandela Bay significantly contributed to the city’s elevated murder rate in recent years, said the report.
Siphelele Ngobese, SA Cities Network researcher for inclusion and wellbeing, said the difference between the report and police statistics was that the national police statistics obscured the facts of where the hot spots were.
“What we aim on doing is to assist cities craft their responses and we want these cities to garner a clear understanding about the issues of murder, robbery and property-related crimes,” she said.
The report states: “Cape Town performs well compared to the other cities in terms of poverty, income inequality and youth unemployment, but has the highest rates of murder, robbery and property-related crimes.
“They are also the least satisfied with law enforcement after Buffalo City. The 2017 report suggested that what might be driving the crime in Cape Town is the disproportionate access to alcohol, drugs and firearms, which is more than double that of other cities.
“The intention to divide this indicator into its three separate components (drug-related crime, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition) will hopefully provide a better understanding of the likely primary catalysts for the high levels of insecurity and violent crime in this city.”
UCT Criminologist Guy Lamb said: “Illegal guns that have been distributed and the access to ammunition is a big contribution. You can’t really do anything about the illegal firearms but the police and law enforcement have to start prioritising the hot spots to seize the guns,” he said.
Community Safety MEC Alan Winde said: “The report makes various recommendations and includes seeking and forming alliances with relevant stakeholders, the implementation of systems to effectively monitor crime prevention programmes and develop evidence-based safety strategies.”
Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith however disagrees with the report. “There is a huge problem with how the statistics are calculated.
“Our murder rate is slightly distorted. But let’s assume that the report is correct then we urgently need an intervention. Gang violence is a problem we cannot fix, you need proper convictions to deal with this,” he said.