Overall crime rates are falling in South Africa but murder and aggravated robbery are on the rise according to annual statistics released by the police at the start of July. 19,202 murders were committed in the period between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2007, or roughly 43 per 100,000 of the population, representing a rise of 2.4 per cent over the previous year. The number of bank robberies more than doubled over the same period and there was also an increase in the number of burglaries and car hijackings. Instead rape, indecent assault and common robberies all dropped by over five per cent. However, the official police statistics only represent the tip of the iceberg as many violent crimes, including rape and murder, go unreported.
The figures have fuelled concern about the problem of crime in South Africa, which is perceived as one of the most violent countries in the world. In February president Thabo Mbeki surprised critics by admitting that many South Africans are living in fear as a result of violent crime and promised to boost police numbers in response.