Latest crime figures show a significant rise in the number of armed robberies in South Africa. The police service says that attacks on cash delivery vans in the year to April 2006 were up 74 per cent over the previous 12 months. The figures, released in September, also showed a 32 per cent increase in the number of robberies at shopping malls and other retail outlets over the same period and a slight rise in the number of carjackings.

By contrast, the number of murders dropped by two per cent to 18,000 over the previous year. However, the official police statistics only represent the tip of the iceberg as many violent crimes, including rape and murder, go unreported.

The figures, which confirm South Africas reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in the world, came as former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town and Nobel peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu warned that the Rainbow Nation is losing its way. What has happened to us? he asked while delivering the annual Steve Biko memorial lecture at the University of Cape Town recently. It seems as if we have perverted our freedom, our rights into licence, into being irresponsible. Rights go hand in hand with responsibility, with dignity, with respect for oneself and for the other. Steve Biko was one of the foremost anti-apartheid leaders, who died after being tortured in police custody on 12 September 1977.