South Africa's police minister on Friday decried a "brutal" surge in murders and other violent crime, in a nation that was already among the world's most dangerous.
"The first three months of this year were violent, brutal and unsafe for many South Africans," Bheki Cele told a news conference.
Between January and March, 6,083 people were killed -- a 22.2 percent increase from the same period last year.
The killings took an especially alarming toll among children, leaving 306 dead, a 37.2 percent increase, he said.
Reported sexual offenses rose by 13.7 percent, with 10,818 people raped.
Kidnappings showed the sharpest increase, with 3,306 cases reported -- more than double the number from a year ago.
"The question is what went wrong," Cele said. "Honestly no answer justifies these dismal figures."
He vowed to weed out corrupt cops, better equip officers, and improve relations with mistrustful communities where the dire police response to crime has led to vigilantism.
"Police alone cannot win the fight against crime. We need deeper partnerships with communities built on trust," he said.