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SA lockdown: Cele welcomes decrease in serious, violent crimes

The minister attributed the trend to the banning of alcohol sales and the restriction on movement.

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: @SAgovnews/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG - Police Minister Bheki Cele on Sunday said there was a notable decrease in serious and violent crimes in the country since the start of the national lockdown late last month.

Cele attributed the trend to the banning of alcohol sales and the restriction on movement. President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

Analysing the crimes and comparing the first week of the lockdown to the same period in 2019, the police minister confirmed that:

  • Murder cases had dropped from 326 to 94;

  • 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 (car/truck hijacking, business robberies, and house robberies) dropped from 8 853 to 2 098.

The 2019-2020 National Crime Statistics were yet to be officially released by the minister of police to Parliament at a later stage this year. Therefore, the analysis done was a preliminary report that was yet to undergo the necessary verification and endorsements.

Government came under fire in some sectors for also including a ban on cigarette sales during this period. However, Cele was having none of it saying that crimes such as hijackings, robberies, and residential break-ins were also down.

“Considering the improved rate of life sentences secured by the FCS [Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences] Units in the past, one is optimistic that police will continue to work around the clock towards 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 remains a scourge across the country,” Cele said in a statement.

The minister also welcomed the drop in the number of complaints against the police during the lockdown.

“The decrease in the number of complaints which were high over the first days of the lockdown reflects stabilisation and confirms that people are now beginning to understand the lockdown and are complying with the regulations, and that people are now cooperating with the members of the law enforcement entities,” he said.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.