South Africa was a much safer place to live in during the first quarter of 2020/2021, as crime statistics show major decreases in all crime categories when compared to the same period last year.
Presenting the crime statistics from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020, Police Minister, General Bheki Cele, has attributed the decrease in criminal activities to the lockdown regulations.
“… The decreased crime levels were impacted largely by the fact that South Africans heeded the call to stay at home, and it goes without saying that the conditions for crime to thrive were not [the usual].
“There were also more boots on the ground to ensure high police visibility and mass adherence to the Disaster Management Act,” the Minister said on Friday.
These statistics show the crime levels during the nationwide lockdown implemented by government to contain the spread of COVID-19. South Africa is currently on level 3 lockdown.
“It is equally important to acknowledge that the unavailability of alcohol also had a role to play. This is evident in the decreased numbers of cases of contact crimes, which plummeted by 37.4%.
“This means there were 53 891 less cases of murder, attempted murder, assault with intent to cause Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH), common robbery and common assault reported, compared to the same reporting period,” the Minister said.
Cele said the drop in crime cases is also demonstrated by a 29.4% decline in contact-related crimes made up of arson and malicious damage to property.
“During this time, South Africans were also safer in their homes. Burglaries at residential premises dropped by over 30%, while on the other hand, burglary at non-residential premises increased by 9.1%.
“Worryingly, there has been an increased number of attacks on schools and liquor outlets during this time,” the Minister said.
A total of 2 692 burglaries were reported at educational premises and 1 246 liquor outlets were targeted. Police have arrested 1 186 people for these crimes.
Drop in sex offences
There has also been a big drop of 39.7% in the number of sexual offences such as sexual assault. A 40.4% decrease in the number of rape cases was reported during the three months, the Minister said.
All top 30 stations that are reporting high levels of assault with intent to cause GBH too recorded drops in numbers.
“Common assault numbers declined from April and May, while the country was under level 4 and 5 but the gap started to close on the 1st of June, when the country was eased into level 3 of the lockdown,” the Minister said.
To date, 298 252 people have been arrested and charged with contraventions of the Disaster Management Act.
A total of 181 579 people were released on warning to appear before a court.
The Minister said 28 337 of those arrested were found guilty of violations ranging from liquor possession, gathering, unauthorised transportation and business, and cross-border related offences.
“Operational interventions continued throughout lockdown and have resulted in the confiscation of millions of Rands worth of contraband. They also removed illegal firearms off our streets and recovered stolen property, including stock.
“These operations played a huge role in clamping down on illegal transportation and distribution of banned substances such as alcohol and cigarettes. They also got in the way of the organised crime trying to take advantage of the new way of life,” the Minister said.
Police officers implicated in criminal activities
A total of 163 officers were arrested from the start of the lockdown for violating the lockdown regulations.
“We are also hopeful that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate will bring [closure] in its investigations into allegations of police brutality, including allegations of death at the hands of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and armed forces.
“Just this week, 16 SAPS officers, who disgraced the police uniform, stood before a Magistrate in Gauteng,” the Minister said.
A three-year investigation by the Hawks Serious Corruption Investigation and Crime Intelligence saw warrant officers, sergeants and constables arrested for allegedly stealing millions of rands worth of drugs confiscated from drug mules and other corruption related offences at the OR Tambo International Airport.
In Tshwane, the same Hawks team arrested 11 Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) officers for alleged corruption by receiving bribes from motorists.