Lockdown made SA safer, but police won't rest as restrictions ease: Cele

14 August 2020 - 15:00 By Kgaugelo Masweneng
Police minister Bheki Cele said a 40.4% decrease in the number of rape cases was reported during the first three months of the 2020/2021 financial year. File photo.
Police minister Bheki Cele said a 40.4% decrease in the number of rape cases was reported during the first three months of the 2020/2021 financial year. File photo.
Image: GCIS

Crime was significantly down during SA's Covid-19 lockdown, and the country a much safer place to live.

So said police minister Bheki Cele as he released the first quarter crime stats in Pretoria on Friday afternoon.

He said there were 53,891 fewer cases of murder, attempted murder, serious assault, robbery and common assault reported for the first quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year.

The drop in crime cases was 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” as burglaries at residential premises dropped by more than 30%.

The number of sexual offences — including rape, sexual assault, attempted sexual offences and contact sexual offences — dropped by 39.7%.

A 40.4% decrease in the number of rape cases was reported, Cele said.

“Yes, indeed, the first quarter of the 2020/2021 period was much safer time to live in, in this country,” said Cele.

SA saw a dramatic difference in reported cases between 2019 and 2020.

There has been a drop in murder, rape, attempted murder, assault GBH, common robbery and common assault compared to the same three-month period in 2019.

Murder went down from 5,398 cases to 3,466, while 3,932 fewer rape cases and 15,361 fewer assault GBH cases were opened with police.

Common assault cases declined from 37,425 to 22,064, and there was a 79% reduction in the number of common robbery cases.

“We will not claim easy victories. The conditions were completely different. As they change, life will be tougher. We will work hard and not rest after this, we have learnt a lot,” Cele said.  

However, burglary at non-residential premises increased by 9.1%. 

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

Cele said that 649 people were arrested for breaking into schools, and 537 for breaking into bottle stores.

Cases of illegal possession of firearms and ammunition went up by 23.1%.

Cele said that drug-related crimes, and driving under the influence, which came as a result of police detection, also increased.

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