All autopsies performed on homicide victims at the Salt River police mortuary, Cape Town, in the first 6 months of 1986 were reviewed. Most of the homicides that had occurred in Cape Town were as a result of stab wounds to the chest. Smaller, but significant, numbers of homicides were as a result of stab wounds to the head and neck, blunt injury to the head, or gunshot wounds. Homicidal burning also has occurred in civil unrest situations. Infanticide was rarely encountered. Alcohol was detected in the homicide victims in 62.9% of cases; 8.4% had a blood alcohol concentration higher than 0.30 g/100 ml. Our figures confirm that Cape Town has one of the highest homicide rates in the world (56.9/100,000 per annum for 1986). Homicides in Cape Town are characterized by assaults with sharp instruments, usually knives, although "pangas," or cane knives, are also commonly used
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