300,000 arrested for breaking lockdown laws: Bheki Cele

14 August 2020 - 14:37 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Police minister Bheki Cele. File photo.
Police minister Bheki Cele. File photo.
Image: Esa Alexander

Police arrested and charged nearly 300,000 people for contravening lockdown laws, police minister Bheki Cele said on Friday.

He was speaking at the release of the crime statistics for the first quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year in Pretoria.

He said that of the 298,252 people arrested and charged, 181,579 were released on warning to appear before a court.

“28,337 of those arrested were found guilty of violations ranging from liquor, gathering, transport, business and cross-border related offences. Unfortunately, most of the people arrested will come out with criminal records and it is not our aim to criminalise South Africans. This is why the minister of justice and correctional services is looking at this issue,” Cele said.

Cele said that the figures for the lockdown period “show a reduction in crimes committed against women and children”.

“However, the low numbers of domestic abuse and sexual offences reported cases could have been due to some women not being able to escape their abusers and could not report crimes committed against them,” he said.

The ban on alcohol also made a difference, he said.

“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 fewer cases of murder, attempted murder, assault GBH, common robbery and common assault reported compared to the same reporting period.

“There has also been a big drop in the number of sexual offences ... [there was] a 39.7% drop in crimes such as rape and sexual assault. A 40.4% decrease in the number of rape cases were reported during the three months,” he said.

However, with schools largely closed and alcohol banned, Cele said that criminals targeted these facilities and businesses.

“Worryingly, there has been an increased number of attacks on schools and liquor outlets during this time. 2,692 burglaries were reported at educational premises and 1,246 liquor outlets were targeted,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cele admitted that many criminal cops operated within the force.

“While we have a police service that strives for blue excellence, some within our ranks still choose to operate in darkness and in criminality. 163 officers were arrested from the start of lockdown from violating the very same lockdown regulations they were meant to enforce.

“We are also hopeful that the Police Independent Investigative Directorate will bring finality, in its investigations into allegations of police brutality, including allegations of death at the hands of SAPS and armed forces,” he said.

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