Posted on May 24, 2005

South Africa Spouse Killings Epidemic

Reuters, May 24

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — A woman is killed every six hours in South Africa by her partner and less than 40 percent of the homicides lead to a conviction, according to a new study.

The study is further evidence of the deep social scars that remain a decade after the end of apartheid, a regime that provoked a major upsurge in violence and alcoholism and stigmatized and disempowered black men, according to analysts.

“A woman is killed by her intimate partner in South Africa every six hours. This is the highest rate (8.8 per 100,000 female population 14 years and older) that has ever been reported in research anywhere in the world,” the study says.

The report is based on 1999 data collected by the Medical Research Council, the University of Cape Town and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

“We estimate that 1,349 women were murdered by an intimate partner nationally in 1999,” says the study, which adds to South Africa’s unenviable reputation for violent crime.

Just last week a South African policeman shot and killed five people including his wife and three of their children in what was believed to have been a jealous rage.


Another recent study found that South Africans are more likely to be shot than suffer any other kind of unnatural death as gun crime pushes the country’s violent death rate to up to eight times the global average.

Glaring income disparities, high unemployment, easy access to illegal firearms and alcohol abuse have all been linked by analysts to South Africa’s rates of violent crime which are among the highest in the world.