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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 September, 2004, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Murder rates fall in South Africa
Yellow Bibs, a neighbourhood watch group in Cape Town
Local neighbourhood watch groups are active across the country
South African opposition parties have welcomed encouraging annual crime figures from the police but said rates were still at "unacceptable levels".

On Monday, South African Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula hailed police for bringing about a sharp fall in the number of murders.

Murders committed in the year to April fell by 8% to just under 20,000 compared with the previous 12 months.

The figure is the lowest since the end of apartheid in 1994.

High crime rates have been blamed for reducing foreign investment and tourism.

"There is no country in the world where there is no crime... But there is no acceptable level of crime. Crime is crime and we need to fight it," Mr Nqakula said.


More effective policing was also linked to significant falls in drug-related crime and drink-driving offences, though the rate of armed robbery increased.

Mr Nqakula announced a three-month firearms amnesty to try to tackle the number of gun related crimes, starting on 1 October.

The Democratic Alliance said that almost 20,000 murders in a year were "horrific by any objective standard".

"Compared to the UK which has on average 850 murders, Australia which has 302, and Canada which has a similar sized population but only 550 murders on average, it is clear that South Africa has a national epidemic of violent crime."

Independent Democrats spokesperson Cecil Burgess said that until people visibly saw a reduction in crime and are made to feel safe "all attempts by the government to reduce crime will not instil any public confidence, despite what the statistics say".

Crime rates have always been high in South Africa, but since the end of apartheid more crimes are reported in formerly segregated areas.

S Africa moves to curb gun crime
01 Jul 04  |  Africa
SA gets tough on crime
07 Oct 03  |  Africa

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