Crime statistics for the 2008/2009 financial year show a small drop in the number of murders in South Africa but a big increase in robbery and sexual attacks.

Over 18,100 people were murdered in South Africa in the data collection period, a three per cent fall in numbers over the previous year. This is consistent with the historical trend, which has seen reported murders falling gradually since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Instead sexual offences rose by ten per cent, with 71,500 reported incidents. However, police minister Nkosinathi Mthethwa said the increase is partly due to the inclusion of sexual attacks against men in the statistics for the first time.

The incidence of burglary has also risen in the past year. Robberies in business premises increased by 41 per cent in 2008/2009, with 13,900 reported incidents, while those in the home rose by 27 per cent, with 18,400 reported break-ins.

South Africa is perceived as one of the most violent countries in the world and the latest statistics have done little to allay fears among organisers of next year