10 Sep 2010

South Africa's murder rate falls - to 17,000

4:01 pm on 10 September 2010

The annual murder rate in South Africa has fallen by 8.6% over the past year, according to new statistics.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says the total number of murders was about a third lower than the total 14 years ago. He also says that 46 of the country's 50 most wanted criminals have been arrested.

South Africa has long been seen as one of the world's most violent countries, the BBC reports, but hosted the football World Cup this year with few major incidents.

The latest figures cover the year up to March 2010 and so do not include the June-July tournament, when hundreds of thousands of foreigners visited the country.

Mr Mthethwa says the number of murders dropped below 17,000 in the past year, for the first time since national statistics started being complied in 1994. In 1995-96 the number was nearly 27,000.

Street robberies and sexual offences also showed declines of 10.4% and 4.4% respectively.

Police have attributed the decreases to greater co-operation between police and community policing forums and increased police visibility.