Police minister Bheki Cele. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Police minister Bheki Cele. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The latest quarterly crime statistics could be misleading if not considered within the context of the level five lockdown, which restricted people’s movement significantly, the FF+ said on Friday.

The party was reacting after the release of crime statistics for the first quarter of the 2020/2021 financial year by police minister Bheki Cele. The statistics showed that crime was significantly down during SA's Covid-19 lockdown as there were 53,891 fewer cases of murder, attempted murder, serious assault, robbery and common assault reported for the first quarter.

The party said common robbery showed the biggest decrease with 49.8%. “These figures may look good, but common robbery occurs mainly on the streets and people were not allowed to move around. Given the stringent regulations of the lockdown, much fewer incidents of common robbery should have been reported,” the FF+ said.

The party said it was difficult to compare these figures with those of previous years due to the great impact of the lockdown. “The harsh reality is that 3,466 murders were committed during this time and that figure is unacceptably high.”

The party, however, welcomed the fact that the crime statistics will from now on be released every quarter. It said quarterly figures will facilitate the process of addressing the causes of crime which will, in turn, contribute to pro-actively combating crime. The party also welcomed the fact that the number of farm murders and attacks were now also specified in the statistics. “During the period from April to June, nine murders were committed on farms. A cause for concern is that during the farm attacks, there were 14 incidents of serious assault, three of rape, 12 of attempted murder and 45 robberies at residential properties on farms.”

The party said it was still of the opinion that SA was an extraordinary violent and dangerous country and that the ANC government was failing to protect citizens against crime.

“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.

SA was under a very strict lockdown for the much of the quarter as the government sought to control the spread of the coronavirus. People were told to stay at home, the sale of tobacco and alcohol was banned, a curfew was imposed, inter-provincial travel was banned and only those deemed to be essential services were allowed to go to work.

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.

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

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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