Cape Town is stab capital of SA (10.11.10)

Cape Town is stab capital of SA (10.11.10)

Cape Town is South Africa's stabbing capital, with more people knifed to death each year than in any other metropolitan city.

If the city hopes to deal with this grisly tag, say researchers at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR), it must urgently implement a "weapons strategy".

On Tuesday, the CSVR released a report titled Tackling armed violence – key findings and recommendations of the study of the violent nature of the crime in South Africa.

Researchers found that between 2003 and 2007, Cape Town recorded more "sharp force" murders than Durban, Pretoria and Joburg.

This refers to murders in which the weapon used was a knife or another sharp instrument.

The report drew its statistics from the police and the National Injury Mortality Surveillance System (Nimss).

Figures from Nimss show that there were 1 095 "sharp force" murders in Cape Town in 2007 – almost as many as in the three other metropoles put together.

Durban's eThekwini metro recorded 640, Joburg had 397 and Tshwane recorded 132.

In 2006, Cape Town recorded 1 012, compared to 641 in eThekwini and 271 in Joburg. The system captured only 69 murders from stabbings in Tshwane.

The system recorded 781 such murders in the city in 2005, followed by eThekwini with 618 and Joburg with 227.

Tshwane had 99.

In 2003, Cape Town had 871 "sharp force murders" and eThekwini recorded 596.

The Joburg metro had 323 and Tshwane recorded 108.

Over the same four-year period, Joburg recorded a figure of 77 percent for murders using firearms. Cape Town's firearm murder rate was 44 percent.

Researchers also studied police dockets from stations in the four different metros from 2001 until 2005.

After 2005, the police's method of categorising some crimes changed.

The CSVR's David Bruce, the author of the final report, said the study focused on the two police stations with some of the highest levels of violent crime in each metro.

In Cape Town, Kraaifontein and Nyanga police stations were selected.

Two police stations in Gauteng and eThekwini were also selected.

Of the total of 199 "sharp-force murders" in the period under review, 130 came from the two Cape Town police stations.

"Perhaps the most striking is the different profile of weapons used in homicide among different cities," the researchers wrote.

"While in the three other metros firearm homicides far outnumbered sharp force homicides, Cape Town is very distinctive among the metros in that sharp-force homicides were either equivalent in number or outnumbered firearm homicides."

The report concluded that "firearm violence" was a problem across the metros.

"Although all of the metros could benefit from a weapons strategy that is broader than dealing with firearms, it is apparent that this issue is most pressing in Cape Town."

The report suggested that "local level structures" devise such a strategy to make sure it met the city's crime needs.

Recommendations also included dealing with violence and bullying at schools and making weapon- free zones at "drinking establishments".

Last month the Cape Argus reported that there had been 227 reported assaults and stabbings at Western Cape schools since the beginning of this year – all of them involving pupils attacking their classmates.

Over the same period last year, 200 cases – 42 stabbings and 158 assaults – were recorded.

In August last year, the Cape Argus revealed that 60 stabbings had been reported at or near the province's schools in the first six months of 2009.

Bruce said the strong gang element in the Western Cape was one of the reasons it had so many stabbings.

"In the gangland culture of the Western Cape, there is much greater use of knives," he said.

"There is also a strong relationship with the prison gang cultures, where things are turned into objects used for sharp-force violence."

Two of the reports in this series from the CSVR were released two years ago.

The three remaining reports and the final report were released publicly yesterday.

Their findings were discussed by Parliament's portfolio committee on police. e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it – Cape Argus


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CSVR is a multi-disciplinary institute that seeks to understand and prevent violence, heal its effects and build sustainable peace at the community, national and regional levels.

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