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World Cup hosts South Africa announce drop in murder rate

World Cup hosts South Africa have announced a decline in the country's murder rate, as safety concerns still persist ahead of the finals next summer.

The South African government announced their latest crime figures on Tuesday with overall cases seeing a small rise, but murders dropping by 3.2%. The government reported that 18,148 people were killed in the 12 months up to March.

Police chief Bheki Cele announced his force was determined to further reduce the murder rate as the eyes of the world begin to turn to South Africa ahead of FIFA's showpiece event.

"You can't be happy when 10 people are killed, let alone 18,000 people. When people in their own houses can't be safe, you are not happy," said Cele. "It is no use just to cry and fold your arms. We will be putting very strong mechanisms to make sure we respond."

House robberies rose by 27% and sexual offences by 10.4%, but violent crime was down by 2.8% overall.

South Africa won the vote to host the 2010 World Cup when holding off a bid from Morocco to earn FIFA's nomination in 2004.

After being confirmed as the first African country to host the global spectacle, South Africa has invested in infrastructure upgrades, including a redevelopment of Johannesburg's Soccer City which will host the final.

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