Friday, 13 November 2020

Pretoria: Following a lull in criminal activity during the hard national COVID-19 lockdown, figures began to rise as restrictions were eased between July and September.

This much is illustrated by the quarter two crime statistics of the 2020/2021 financial year, released by Police Minister Bheki Cele on Friday.

The latest figures are a stark contrast to low crime statistics the Minister released in August for the first quarter of the financial year.

“The decreases were largely attributed to the fact that the country was at the time under lockdown level 4 and 3. People stayed at home and there were more boots on the ground,” Cele said.

He said law enforcement was aware that the “rosy picture” would not last forever, as the country opened up for business again.

The figures, said Cele, are demonstrative of a country that is enjoying fewer restrictions under the Disaster Management Act.

In the period under review, 5 107 people were murdered in the country.

“This meant 339 less people were killed, compared to the same period last year. This is also the lowest figure for the past four 2nd quarters from 2017/18 to date,” said the Minister.

From a sample of 4 290 murder dockets, analysis revealed that 1 992 of the murders occurred in public spaces such as beaches, parks, streets or open fields.

“Over 900 people were killed in their homes or the homes of those who ended their lives. Alarmingly, arguments and misunderstandings remain the main drivers of murder,” the statistics reveal.

Robberies, vigilantism and gang conflicts also feature high on the list of some of the causes of murder.

During the three months, the Minister said alcohol continued to have a negative effect on the country’s communities.

“These crime statistics we are releasing today continue to vindicate our actions as the SAPS to clamp down on illegal alcohol trading.”

The figures show the consumption and abuse of alcohol is a causative factor in hundreds of murder cases recorded in the second quarter.

Liquor, Cele said, was also involved in 829 assault GBH [grievous bodily harm] cases and 747 rape cases, while 179 attempts of murder were alcohol induced.

“Over 1 000 incidents of murder, attempted murder, rape and assault took place inside or outside liquor outlets such as bars, taverns, shebeens and nightclubs,” Cele said, adding that the figures “make it impossible to deny the true effects of alcohol abuse”.

With the festive season on the horizon, Cele said criminals are trying to make up for the time lost during the ‘crime holiday’ experienced in the first quarter of the financial year.

“This is demonstrated by the increase in the country’s most feared crimes, which are residential robberies,” he said.

The Minister said it was encouraging to see that the third leg of the so-called trio crimes is also showing a decrease of 1.6%.

Cash-in-transit heists

The scramble to ‘catch up’ by criminals is also reflecting in the rise of cash-in-transit heist figures.

“It is clear armed gangs targeting cash vans, are becoming more desperate and ruthless as the year comes to a close.

“These criminals are stopping at nothing to carry out their criminal acts, often doing so in public spaces near innocent bystanders,” said Cele.

He assured the country that the SAPS is not taking the brazen criminal acts lightly, saying they have already made breakthroughs in taking down syndicates and recouping some of the stolen money.

Cele said it was encouraging that the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (the Hawks) continues to make inroads by cornering and taking down the gangs.

Stock theft

On stock theft, Cele said this remained a serious problem that needs serious attention from multiple government departments.

In the three months of reporting, there were 7 339cases of stock theft countrywide.

About 26 322 sheep were stolen in the last three months.

“Over 14 000 cattle were also stolen and found themselves in abattoirs and on to the plates of unsuspecting South Africans. This crime has also recorded a decrease in all provinces, except for the Northern Cape,” said Cele.

The Minister used the occasion to salute police officers for serving with “honour and diligence”.

“I believe there is a war against our officers of the law and we must be ready for the fight,” he said, urging that this form of attack on the State should not deter the SAPS.

SA records fewer GBV cases between July and September

While there has been a drop in the number of sexual offences reported, the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) continues to haunt women and children in the country.

According to the quarterly crime statistics released on Friday, South Africa recorded fewer sexual offences between July and September this year.

Police Minister, Bheki Cele, said crimes such as rape and sexual assault recorded a dip of 16.8%.

The country reported an 18.8% reduction in the number of rape cases.

However, Cele said the months of July, August and September 2020 were “dangerous” months for thousands of women after 8 922 cases of rape were reported during this period.

Cele told the media that a sample of 5 168 rape dockets revealed that 3 578 people were raped in their homes or at the home of their perpetrators.

“The same analysis also revealed that more people were raped in KwaZulu-Natal than any other province.”

According to the data, most of the rapes that occurred in the residence of the perpetrator or victim happened in KwaZulu-Natal with 710 reported cases, followed by Gauteng with 578 and Western Cape with 514.

“Majority of those who were raped were women,” Cele added.

In addition, over 1 000 people were raped in public places such as parks, beaches, parking areas or open fields.

According to Cele, law breaking is now peaking after a drastic drop in criminal offences during the hard lockdown implemented to curb COVID-19 infections.

“On the 14th of August I stood here and spoke about a never seen before ‘rosy’ picture of a peaceful South Africa experiencing a ‘crime holiday’. That was the picture the crime statistics from 1st of April to end of June 2020 painted.”

He said this was largely because most people stayed at home and more police officers were on the ground.

“Basically, the environment for crime to thrive was distorted.”

However, he said he knew it would not last as the country reopened for more businesses to operate.

The latest crime statistics are indicative of a country that is enjoying fewer restrictions under the Disaster Management Act.

Fallen members

Cele on Friday paid his respects to the 252 men and women in blue who have lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We also pass our condolences to all the officers who were killed on and off duty in the last three months.”

“I believe there is a war against our officers of the law and we must be ready for the fight.”