‘Mr. the president, you miss the war in your own backyard’


Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa should look closer to home if he wants to charge someone with “war crimes”.

“While Ramaphosa wants to press charges of war crimes in the Israel/Palestine war, he misses the war that is going on in his own backyard and the person who has to face the ‘charges’, namely Bheki Cele, minister of police.”

This is according to Ian Cameron, director of community safety of the pressure group Action Society, in response to new research by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on the homicide rate in South Africa which has steadily increased over the past decade and in the past financial year was the highest in two decades are.

The crime figures for the second quarter of this year are being released today by Cele and according to Cameron he expects it to be a “bloodbath”.

“Cele committed itself in 2020 to reduce contact crimes by 30% within five years. He is on track to see those numbers rise by 30%. If Ramaphosa fails to fire Cele for his incompetence, he must be held personally accountable, along with Cele, for the pain and suffering caused to every victim of violent crime – especially the families of the nearly 28,000 murder victims, whose cases will not be heard in the next three years due to the DNA backlog that Cele caused. He must also join Cele by explaining to more than 90% of the families why their loved ones’ murderers will get away with their crimes.”

According to the ISS report, the homicide rate in South Africa reached a peak of 45 deaths per 100,000 people in 2023. An average of 75 people have been killed every day over the past year.

Media conference of the government's interdepartmental group charged with justice, crime prevention and security

“Between the onset of democracy in 1994 to 2012, the homicide rate dropped by 55% to a low of 29.5 per 100,000 people. Since then, socio-economic stagnation and dysfunctional penal institutions have contributed to a 53% increase in the rate,” says the ISS’s report.

“In terms of the raw numbers, the number of murders increased by 77%. In the 2022-23 financial year, 27,494 murders were recorded, compared to 15,554 in 2011-12.”

But despite this crisis of violent crime, the government has not publicly acknowledged the need for a focused response to the problem, which is destroying lives, families and communities, the ISS believes.

David Bruce, the ISS consultant who conducted the research, found that the highest murder rates per capita are in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape and Gauteng.

“These four provinces also recorded the highest increases in homicide rates since 2011-12. In 2022-23, the risk of being murdered was highest in the Eastern Cape, with a rate of 71 murders per 100 000. Next highest were KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, both with annual murder rates of 56 murders per 100 000.”

A decrease in the number of murders in South Africa will not only save lives and prevent trauma, but help to improve conditions for local economic development and South Africa’s attractiveness as an investment destination, says the ISS’s report.