City authorities say a report ranking Cape Town among the 50 most violent cities in the world is “severely distorted”.
The report, by the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, a Mexican research NGO, ranks Cape Town as the world’s 34th most violent city in 2011.
This is in spite of the fact that no official crime statistics have been released for the 2011/12 financial year (April to March).
The report ranks Cape Town higher than Mosul in Iraq (44th), Durban (49th) and Joburg (50th).
The most violent city in the world, said the report, was San Pedro Sula in Honduras, followed by Ciudad Juarez in Mexico and Maceio in Brazil.
Five of the 10 most violent cities are Mexican. The others are in Latin America, Brazil, the US, South Africa and Iraq.
The council compiled its list by comparing every city with more than 300 000 residents for which homicide statistics were available on the internet.
San Pedro Sula had 159 murders per 100 000 residents, while Cape Town had 46, according to the report.
JP Smith, the city’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, said the report was “severely distorted” and the work of “panic-mongerers”.
“Only countries that keep accurate statistics can be compared,” said Smith. “This research and the methodology used has to be questioned.”
Senior crime researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Dr Johan Burger said it was “extremely difficult” to compare the crime statistics of cities and countries, as crimes were defined differently.
“It’s very difficult and risky to accurately analyse something like the most dangerous or violent city or country in the world.”
Lizette Lancaster, project manager of the ISS crime and justice hub, said East London had the country’s highest murder rate of 56.1 per 100 000 people last year.
Port Elizabeth had a rate of 49.4 and Cape Town’s was 45.9. “The safest metropolitan areas in relation to murder were Tshwane (22.9) followed by Johannesburg (29.5) and Ekurhuleni (34.6),” she said.
“Analyses of smaller localities reveal that there are substantial differences within provinces and cities.
“In the Cape Town metropolitan area, precincts such as Milnerton, Langa, Gugulethu, Harare, Nyanga, Delft and Mitchells Plain possess far higher murder rates than the tourist locations of Camps Bay and the city centre.”
Lancaster said travelling to an area with a high murder rate did not necessarily translate into a higher risk of being murdered.
“A 2009 SAPS internal docket analysis found that when it comes to murder, 80 percent of perpetrators are known to victims, most being relatives, friends or acquaintances of the victims,” she said.
“The study also showed that 65 percent of the murders occurred as a result of social behaviour, for instance domestic conflict and arguments associated with jealousy, alcohol and drug abuse.
“Only 16 percent of all murders were found to be the result of criminal behaviour such as a robbery.”
Cape Town Tourism spokeswoman Skye Grove said violent crime was “exceptionally high” in some parts of the city.
“In order for Cape Town to be a great place to visit, it should be a great place to live. For many citizens, this is not yet the case.”