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n South African Medical Journal - Validating homicide rates in the Western Cape Province, South Africa : findings from the 2009 Injury Mortality Survey : research
Background. The Western Cape Province had the highest homicide rates in South Africa during the early 2000s. South African Police Service (SAPS) data suggested a significant decline in homicide rates in the Western Cape since 2007. It ranked second highest to the Eastern Cape Province until 2013 and ranked highest again at 52.1/100 000 in 2015. A recent national injury mortality survey offers an alternative data source to assess whether the decline in homicide rates in the Western Cape was real.
Methods. A retrospective record review of autopsies was conducted from 45 state mortuaries in eight provinces for 2009. In addition, mortality data for the Western Cape were sourced from the Provincial Injury Mortality Surveillance System. Age-standardised mortality rates and crude homicide rates per 100 000 population were calculated to compare with the SAPS crude rates.
Results. Our study found that the Western Cape had a provincial age-standardised homicide rate of 40.1/100 000 in 2009 and ranked fourth highest among the nine provinces. The crude homicide rate of 43/100 000 for the Western Cape was similar to the SAPS provincial homicide rate of 42.4/100 000. The Northern Cape Province was the only notable exception to our provincial homicide rate ranking comparison with the SAPS for 2009.
Conclusions. The Western Cape is fortunate to have alternative data sources to monitor trends in homicides over time. The latest release of the 2014/2015 SAPS crime statistics should be assessed in a similar manner, with a more recent data source, to validate accuracy of the provincial rates on a regular basis.
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