Drop in SA crime since lockdown

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Police Minister Bheki Cele welcomed a dramatic reduction in serious and violent crimes during the lockdown to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement, Cele said this was due to, among others, prohibition on the sale and movement of liquor since the nationwide lockdown 10 days ago.

The Ministry said the analysis was based on a preliminary report yet to undergo verification and endorsement.

Analysing crime and comparing the first week of the lockdown to the same period in 2019, Cele said murder cases dropped from 326 to 94 with rape cases dropped from 699 to 101.

“Cases of assault with intention to inflict grievous bodily harm, dropped from 2 673 to 456 and trio crimes dropped from 8 853 to 2 098,” he said.

Car/truck hijacking, business robberies and house robberies, collectively grouped as trio crimes, are arguably violent crimes where perpetrators carry illegal firearms. These are crimes known to instil fear.

In relation to gender-based violence, Minister Cele confirmed the number of complaints remained high and was a concern.

“Over 2 300 calls/complaints were registered since the beginning of the lockdown on 27 March until 31 March 2020 and from these, 148 suspects were charged,” said Cele.

The figure in relation to calls/complaints between January 2020 and 31 March 2020 stands at 15 924.

Once all reports are consolidated, figures will be measured against the number of calls/complaints received through the GBV Command Centre in 2019, where the figure stands at 87 920.

When COVID-19 was declared a national state of disaster on 15 March 2020, Cele flagged a possible increase in GBV and domestic violence as a concern. The Minister then urged the SAPS management to reinforce the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Units to ensure readiness and capacity to respond to complaints.

“Considering the improved rate of life sentences secured by FCS Units in the past, one is optimistic police will continue to work to securing successful convictions and long term sentences of perpetrators of crimes against women and children. This should remain the practice even beyond the lockdown as GBV stays a scourge across the country,” said the Minister.

Cele also welcomed a drop in the number of complaints against police during the lockdown.

“The decrease in complaints which were high over the first days of the lockdown, reflects stabilisation and confirms people start to understand the lockdown and comply with the regulations and people now co-operate with law enforcement entities,” said Cele.

The Ministry said the past week was characterised by long queues at grocery stores and social grant paypoints. Cele anticipates improved adherence to the regulations, particularly in relation to restriction of movement of persons and traffic on the roads.

SAPS, SANDF, Metro Police and other law enforcement agencies remain on high alert to ensure maximum adherence to the lockdown regulations.