The ruling African National Congress (ANC) said on Tuesday that crime fighting remains one of the party’s top priorities.

“Efforts and creative interventions must be intensified and consolidated to escalate our battle against crime,” the party said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

The ANC was responding to the release of the latest crime statistics by Police Minister Bheki Cele in Parliament earlier on Tuesday.

The country’s murder rate has kept an upward trajectory, increasing by 6.9 per cent in the period from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, during which 20,336 people were murdered.

This translates to a shocking 57 people being murdered every day.

Firearms (41 per cent) and knives (31 per cent) were the key instruments used to commit murders, according to the report.

“This demands firmer regulation in the acquisition of firearms and other harmful instruments,” the ANC said.

“We must also intensify our fight against the possession of illegal firearms in our country.”

The report also shows increases in gender-based violence — a 8.2 per cent surge in cases of sexual assault and a 0.5 per cent jump in rape cases.

“We must therefore implement alternative policing measures as far as sexual assault cases are concerned,” the ANC said.

Among other crimes, robbery of cash-in-transit vans also saw a shark increase in the period surveyed, up by 86 counts, from 152 to 238.

In most instances, security guards’ weapons were taken from them.

While residential burglaries have dropped by 7.5 per cent, this still means that 625 homes are burgled every day in South Africa.

Overall, a total of 2.09 million cases of crimes were recorded in the period surveyed, down from 2.12 million, a 4.4 per cent drop.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) criticized the ANC-led government for “losing the battle to keep South Africans safe.”

The DA attributed the high crime rates to the inability of the South African Police Service which it said “is severely under-resourced, under-staffed, under-trained and under-equipped.”

The ANC said the fight against crimes “requires action by all South Africans.”

“The role of communities in crime-fighting cannot be overemphasized because stolen and hijacked goods are often traded in our communities,” the ANC said.

The party said communities must ensure that crimes are reported and that necessary assistance is provided in order for police to carry out their work.(Xinhua/NAN)