The latest crime figures show the actual murder rate dropping marginally, with 331 fewer people killed this year compared to last.
Releasing the annual SA Police Service (SAPS) report on Thursday, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said the murder rate had decrease by 3.1 percent.
An analysis done by SAPS research task team head Mzwandile Petros showed totals for five of the country's most serious crimes for the period 1 April 2011 to 31 March this year were:
- Murder: 15 609 (previous year 15 940);
- Attempted murder: 14 859 (previous year 15 493);
- Assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm: 192 651 (previous year 198 602);
- Common Assault: 181 670 (previous year 185 891);
- Sexual offences: 64 514 (previous year 66 196).
Mthethwa told journalists over 18 000 people were murdered in the 2004/5 reporting period.
"This translates to a 27.6 percent reduction in murder over an eight-year period," he said.
The minister said an analysis showed almost two-thirds of murders were committed as a result of arguments, fuelled by heavy drinking and drug abuse.
On the decrease in sexual offences, Mthethwa said this was not necessarily a good sign and could point to a trend of under-reporting crimes, such as rape.
"It is influenced by reporting behaviour; if victims trust the police, then you will get more reporting."
He conceded there were difficulties in policing rape and related offences.
"... as government, we still remain concerned about the conviction rate of criminals who commit such crimes," he said.
Reinstating the family violence, child protection, and sexual offences (FCS) units two years ago was helping to ensure more perpetrators were jailed.
"In cases where it involved children under the age of 18, the unit has secured convictions that resulted in a total of 10 345 years [in jail] for those criminals."
For sexual offences against people over 18 131 life sentences were secured.