South Africa

Crime stats: More than 400 people killed in mob justice attacks in three months

Individuals in South Africa are more likely to lose their lives due to disputes, misunderstandings, or road rage incidents, the latest crime statistics revealed.

On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele released the 2023/2024 financial year third quarter crime statistics.

The stats cover the period from 1 October to 31 December 2023.

Causative factors

Presenting the stats on Friday, Cele indicated that a total of 7 710 people were murdered in the three months, an increase of 155 from the same period in the previous year.

“It is disturbing and concerning that the number of people murdered during this period increased by 2.1%,” he said during a media briefing.

The minister revealed that arguments, misunderstandings, road rage and provocation were the main drivers of murder, attempted murder and assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm (GBH).

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Another major contributor to murders are vigilantism or mob justice attacks, which saw just over 430 people killed in the third quarter.

Gauteng registered the highest with 84 mob justice attacks, followed by the Eastern Cape (80) and KwaZulu-Natal (78).

Other factors included robbery, gang-related crimes, revenge or punishment crimes, and hijackings.

“It is concerning that of the 268 gang-related murders, 250 of these murders were reported in the Western Cape,” Cele said.

See the table below:

Quarterly crime stats / Mob justice attacks
Causative factors. Source: South African Police Service (Saps)

Murder locations

Murders usually take place in public spaces such parks, streets, parking lot, beaches and abandoned buildings.

At least 3 800 people were killed in these places between October and December, according to the stats breakdown.

The second most likely place where people are murdered is the residences of the perpetrator or victim followed by liquor outlets, mode of transport such as buses or taxis, and farms.

The majority of the top 30 stations where murder was most reported were in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Gauteng and Eastern Cape.

Quarterly crime stats / South Africa crime
Murder locations. Source: South African Police Service (Saps)

During the third quarter, 42 people were handed life sentences for murder, with another 83 convicted murderers receiving sentences of 20 years or longer.

Another 497 people were handed sentences ranging between five and 19 years imprisonment.

“282 murderers were handed down a collective 287 year’s imprisonment sentence [while] 215 murderers were handed down a collective 216 years imprisonment sentence,” Cele said.

Police killings

The minister further said that 22 police officers had been killed between October and December. Ten of them had been on duty at the time, while 12 were killed off-duty.

At least 12 suspects were arrested for killing officers.

“Two police killers were also sentenced and convicted to four life term imprisonment sentences.

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“Criminals are warned that they will face the full might of the law and be held accountable for all the consequences flowing from the killing of police officials.

“We will not hesitate to ensure that those who harbour police killers or are in any way involved in criminal activity related to police killings will face the same consequences as the criminal who actually pulled the trigger,” Cele continued

Watch the briefing below:

Mass shootings

There had also been six mass shootings across the country during the three month period.

“The seventh incident was a mob justice attack in Diepsloot,” the minister said.

Three suspects were arrested for the Inanda shooting, where five men died.

The accused have already appeared in court for murder and will be back in the dock on later this month on 28 February.

“In the mob justice attack where five men were burnt to death in December 2023, five suspects were arrested and charged for the murders.

“They have already made several court appearances and their case was remanded to 7 March 2024. All five accused remain in custody,” Cele added.

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