Domestic violence drops in lockdown

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Domestic violence related crimes decreased significantly since the National State of Disaster regulations were introduced last month.

These are crimes related but not limited to murder, attempted murder, rape and sexual assault.

This was revealed by Police Minister Bheki Cele in KwaZulu-Natal to assess adherence to the National State of Disaster regulations.

The regulations are an attempt to curb the spread of the virus, which to date affected over 3 400 people and claimed at least 58 lives in the country.

With just over a week remaining in the extended lockdown, Cele expressed satisfaction at inroads made by law enforcement agencies nationally.

Security forces have patrolled streets and conducted raids with illegal liquor outlets shut down.

“Due to the lockdown and heightened visibility, reinforced by the deployment of the SANDF (SA National Defence Force) and other regulations such as prohibiting the sale of liquor, we have seen a significant drop across most crime categories,” said Cele.

Law enforcement will give a comprehensive crime picture after the lockdown.

“At this stage, we compared crime for the period 27 March 2020 to 20 April 2020, to the same period in 2019. We welcome the decrease in contact crime and trio crimes – both crime categories known to instil fear and terror among citizens.”

The SA Police Service (SAPS), along with the SANDF, provincial traffic and metro police departments and other law enforcement agencies, have during this time, enforced regulations.

“I extend a word of appreciation to all on deployment during this lockdown, for their unwavering commitment and resilience in support of government’s efforts to combat the COVID-19 global pandemic,” he said.

Cele said authorities conducted over 190 roadblocks, set up daily across the country. In addition, 681 vehicle checkpoints were mounted.

Comparing crime trends between 29 March- 22 April 2019 and 27 March – 20 April 2020, results show crime dropped by 69.4%.

During this period, domestic related crimes dropped from 9 990 cases between 29 March and 22 April last year, to 3 061 since the start of lockdown until 20 April 2020. This is a difference of 6 929.

South Africa entered an initial 21-day nationwide lockdown last month. The lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 was extended by two weeks until the end of April.

“Most concerning in domestic violence incidents, perpetrators are well-known to the victims – spouses, partners, close relatives,” he said.

In four incidents, boyfriends were allegedly killed by girlfriends and in two incidents the murder was a result of an argument over liquor.

Cele said: “In one incident the boyfriend refused to go and buy liquor and in the other, the couple was under the influence of alcohol.”

“In relation to contraventions of lockdown regulations, by the end of the initial 21 days, we were on almost 107 000 cases opened and over 118 000 people charged.”

The cases include: liquor related offences; illegal gatherings; failure to confine to place of residence; cross-border movement; business related; transport related and misrepresentation of statement to deceive

Of those arrested, 42 388 are in courts across the country, while the rest were either granted bail, fined or released on warning to appear in court.