Murders down in festive season, nearly 25,000 drunks taken off the streets

Deputy police minister Cassel Mathale, national police minister Bheki Cele and national commissioner general Khehla Sithole at a briefing in Durban on Tuesday. They addressed the media about festive season crime stats.
Deputy police minister Cassel Mathale, national police minister Bheki Cele and national commissioner general Khehla Sithole at a briefing in Durban on Tuesday. They addressed the media about festive season crime stats.
Image: Orrin Singh

South Africa's murder rate declined by 1.4% and 24,827 drunk drivers were taken off the country's roads during the festive period.

This was revealed by police minister Bheki Cele, who was speaking at the SAPS provincial offices in Durban on Tuesday.

Cele, deputy minister Cassel Mathale and national police commissioner General Khehla Sithole addressed the media about the festive season stats for the period October 15 to January 11.

Cele said that despite a reduction in crime countrywide, in which he made specific reference to the Western Cape - which for the first time in five years experienced a reduction in violent crimes over the festive period - KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga were the only two provinces which under-performed.

He attributed the reduction in crime to the decision taken by police management, as early as September, to focus their attention and "hit hard" in areas where alcohol was known to be a common denominator.

"Alcohol plays a big role as a generator of crime. Operational plans were put in place to ensure there were more boots on the ground, especially on weekends and around areas where alcohol consumption is high."

He said 24,827 drunk drivers were taken off the country's roads, almost 5,000 more than in the previous period.

"Police shut down 6,124 liquor stores and taverns due to non-compliance. Almost 2,000 of these outlets were operating out of the Eastern Cape."

Cele said all contact crimes decreased, except common assault and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

"Women and children were also safer this festive season, with sexual offences - which includes crimes such as rape, sexual assault and attempted sexual offences - down by 9.9%."

He said homes and business property were safer this festive period.

"Property-related crime, such as burglary at residential and non-residential premises, theft out of vehicles and stock theft decreased by 10.2%."

He said 4,831 firearms were confiscated during the period, and this figure did not include surrendered firearms.

Cele thanked the men and women in blue who worked tirelessly over the festive period and responded positively.

"We had less than 10% of our members on special leave."

Cele admitted, however, there were some stubborn crimes which needed addressing and intervention.

He revealed that car and truck hijacking cases during the 2019 festive season period increased by 11% and 9% respectively.

He said 388 car hijacking suspects were arrested.

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