JOHANNESBURG: An onslaught of violent crime afflicting South Africa shows no sign of abating, according to police statistics released on Wednesday that detailed a further surge in murders and kidnappings.

Rapes, in a country notorious for sex attacks against women and children, also recorded a huge jump.

Kidnappings doubled to more than 4,000 in the three months between July and September, compared to the same quarter last year.

Quarterly figures said more than 7,000 people, including almost 1,000 women, were murdered over the period, up 14 percent on the same timeframe in 2021.

Rapes were up 11 percent, with 10,000 cases opened across the country.

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Carjackings rose 24 percent to more than 6,000.

More than 550 children were killed between April and September.

"The crime statistics again show that we as communities continue to fail to protect some of the most vulnerable in society — our children," Police Minister Bheki Cele told a news conference.

He promised that 10,000 new recruits would be ready to join the police force ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays, when crime typically rises.

Their deployment "will intensify police visibility during the festive season and beyond," he said. "Nothing will replace fighting crime [better] than warm bodies."

The Congress of South African Trade Unions, the nation's largest labor confederation, said last month the force's headcount has declined by nearly 30,000 over the past decade from over 200,000 to 172,000.

Cele, who is under fire over the crime wave, noted that from July to September last year, South Africa was under various levels of coronavirus lockdown, with restrictions on many activities.

But that will be of little consolation for many South Africans who have grown accustomed to bleak police bulletins.

"The bloodbath of violent crime remains out of control across the country with millions of people living in fear," said Andrew Whitfield, a lawmaker with the largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Cele.