South Africa’s murder rate up nearly 7 percent, police say

In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 17 2018, police search suspects for guns and drugs during a raid on known drug houses in Mannenburg, Cape Town, South Africa, The country's high murder rate has increased by about 7 percent prompting the police minister to compare the situation to a "war Zone' with many murders being linked to gang violence in the Western Cape province. (AP Photo/Nasief Manie)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa’s already high murder rate has increased by about 7 percent, prompting the police minister to compare the situation to a “war zone.”

Police on Tuesday released crime statistics showing 20,336 people were murdered in South Africa between April 2017 and March, compared to 19,016 in the previous year.

The police minister, Bheki Cele, says the high murder rate “borders close to the war zone — while there is peace and there is no war.”

Many murders were linked to gang violence in Western Cape province, whose capital is Cape Town.

A parliamentary committee says police efforts to deal with the problem have been ineffective and that commanders should strengthen the law enforcement presence in crime hotspots.

South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

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