Latest police crime statistics show South Africa is still confronting a violent crime epidemic which shows little sign of abating.

The rates of some grievous crimes in South Africa have decreased in the past year, according to official statistics, but the drop is not across the board. While the number of rapes have decreased slightly for the country, the top line figure was still a shocking 39, 828 recorded between 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017.

Murder rates were up in 2016/17 and the police recorded a total of 19,016 murders, up from 18,673 murders in 2015/16.

The overall trend for serious crime in the country has seen a downward tick, the official statistics suggest, with only two provinces reporting overall increases - Eastern Cape had an increase of 1.1% while Mpumalanga saw an increase of 1.4%.

Still, the sheer scale of the violence and crime is epic. For example, in 2016/17, 156,450 common assaults were recorded. On average, 428.6 people were victims of common assault every day.

Indeed, the Institute for Security Studies suggested that this figure may only be a fraction of the reality: "Police statistics for assault are notoriously unreliable because most victims don't report these crimes to the police. Since the victim and perpetrator may be related (such as in a case of domestic violence) victims are often reluctant to disclose assault."

Criminals were also revealed to be turning to carjacking, as highway heists hit a new high. Police recorded 16,717 carjacking incidents in South Africa. This was the highest number recorded in the past ten years. On average, 45.8 cars were hijacked per day in 2016/17.

When compared to other nations the numbers alone are damning. In 2016/2017 there were 19,016 reported murders in South Africa; in England and Wales, which has a similar sized population to South Africa, there were 664 reported homicides in the year up to June 2017.

For another comparison, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime states that in 2015 there was a similar 17,843 reported murders in Nigeria - but Nigeria has a population of around 186 million, dwarfing South Africa's 55 million.

The statistics only count reported crimes and do not address suspected rates of underreporting - something that can heavily affect sex crime statistics. Reacting to the figures, the country's police minister, Fikile Mbalula, said: "We must not see these statistics just as pure numbers," News24 reported.

"Behind the numbers are real feelings, real lives, real hurt, real harm, real losses, deaths, feelings of unsafety – these statistics represent the memory of that gruesome rape or murder, the fearful home invasion and loss of property."