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7 710 murders in 3 months, but Cele notes reported murders reducing


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7 710 murders in 3 months, but Cele notes reported murders reducing

Image of Bheki Cele
Police Minister Bheki Cele

16th February 2024

By: Thabi Shomolekae
Creamer Media Senior Writer


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Police Minister Bheki Cele believes South African Police Services’ (Saps’) efforts to prevent, combat and arrest criminals are proving to be effective, as he noted a reduction in the number of murders reported in the last two quarters.

Cele was addressing the media, on Friday, on the third quarter crime statistics for October to December 2023, where he said Operation Shanela was making its mark and putting a dent in serious, violent and organised crime.


Since its inception in May, more than 442 000 suspects had been arrested.

While the number of reported murders reduced in the last two consecutive quarters, 7 710 people were murdered between October and December, an increase of 155 when compared with the same period in the previous year.


“The provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Free State must be singled out and commended for being able to register a reduction in the number of people murdered during this period,” Cele said.

A total of 32 229 suspects were arrested for common assault and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm; 4 882 suspects were arrested for murder and attempted murder; and 4 783 suspects were arrested for sexual offences-related crimes, such as rape and attempted rape.

Cele said 6 383 people were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs; 3 747 suspects were arrested for dealing in drugs, while 16 942 suspects were arrested for being in possession of drugs.

Cele added that 2 581 suspects were arrested for being in possession of illegal and prohibited firearms and ammunition.

He noted that October to December was a significantly busy holiday period and saw the Saps deploy critical resources and manpower.

“I must say, we came into this festive period, well prepared …We unleashed our safer festive operational plan on the 13th of October 2023, where we deployed various policing interventions and strategies and gave strict instructions and a clear directive to our members on the ground to squeeze out all criminals in every corner of this country,” he explained.

Cele highlighted that attention and more resources had been allocated to stations that had the highest number of murders reported, saying the majority of the top 30 stations where murder was most reported were to be found in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Eastern Cape.


Meanwhile, Cele explained that there had been significant progress in the rate of finalisation of DNA cases and the eradication of the historic DNA backlog, which was currently at zero, from 251 000 cases in the 2021/2022 financial year.

“Further to this, the expansion of the DNA lab in Gqerberha, which was opened by the President in August 2023, has contributed immensely to the processing of more DNA samples in the country. All these efforts have contributed positively to Saps' fight against gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) cases. For example, the National Prosecuting Authority and Saps project has led to more than 40 000 DNA forensic reports being finalised to ensure that cases of GBVF are prioritised,” he said.

He explained that crimes detected as a result of police action, such as the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, drug-related crime, as well as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as well as sexual offences and other crimes, registered a positive increase of 10.8%.

“These are crimes that are usually not reported to the police but detected as a result of the deployment of law enforcement personnel and the employment of intelligence,” he said.

The statistics revealed that contact crimes, which are commonly known as the 17-community reported crimes and which include murder, rape, assault, and shoplifting, registered a slight increase of 1.5 %, Cele added.


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