Murder and rape cases in South Africa shot up between April and June from a year earlier, when the country was under a strict coronavirus lockdown, police figures showed on Friday.
At least 10,000 rapes and 5,700 murders were recorded over the three months, an increase of just over 60 percent from the same period last year.
The latest numbers show an increase of less than one percent over the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.
“The double-digit increases don’t necessarily reflect a true picture because they are being compared to an abnormal period,” Police Minister Bheki Cele told a televised media briefing from Pretoria, referring to the hard lockdown when movement was barred.
Compared to pre-pandemic levels, the figures translated to a 0.6 percent increase, he said.
During the period under review, anti-virus restrictions had been loosened significantly with the movement of people permitted during non-curfew hours.
South Africa is among the most violent countries, and its murder rates are constantly increasing.
In 2019-2020, the country saw more than 21,000 murders, according to annual police numbers — up 1.4 percent on the previous year.
From a sample of over 4,000 killings police “found that arguments, misunderstandings that are not domestic-related and road rage … were the highest contributors to murder,” said Major-General Thulare Sekhukhunea, a police statistician.