Bheki Cele says serious violent crimes dropped since nationwide lockdown

Minister of police Bheki Cele.
Minister of police Bheki Cele.

Police minister Bheki Cele has announced a decrease in serious violent crimes during the first week of the national lockdown. 

In a statement, Cele said he welcomes the national decrease in serious and violent crimes, attributing this to amongst other factors, the prohibition of the sale and movement of liquor since the nationwide lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic.

"The 2019/20 national crime statistics are yet to be officially released by the minister of police to parliament at a later stage this year," said Cele. 

Cele also said the analysis done currently, is a preliminary report that is yet to undergo the necessary verification and endorsements.

Analysing the crime and comparing the first week of the lockdown to the same period in 2019, Cele 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 dropped from 8,853 to 2,098.

He also said car and truck hijacking, business robberies, and house robberies which are collectively grouped as trio crimes, are arguably the most violent crimes where the perpetrators are commonly armed with illegal firearms. 

These are the type of crimes that are known to instill fear amongst our citizens.

In relation to gender-based violence (GBV), Cele confirmed that the number of complaints remained high and therefore concerning. 

"Over 2,300 calls or complaints have been registered since the beginning of the lockdown from March 27 until March 31 and from these, 148 suspects were charged," he said. 

The figure in relation to calls and complaints between January and March 31 stands at 15,924.

"Once all reports have been consolidated, the figures will be measured against the number of calls and complaints received through the GBV Command Centre in 2019, where the figure stands at 87,920," said Cele. 

With the initial declaration of the Covid-19 state of disaster on March 15, Cele said that point flagged as a concern, the possible increase in GBV and domestic violence cases. 

"Considering the improved rate of life sentences secured by the FCS 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," said the minister.

Cele has expressed gratitude at 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," confirmed Cele.

He said the past week was generally characterised by long queues at grocery stores and social grant paypoints. 

" The SAPS, SANDF, Metro Police and other law enforcement agencies will remain on high alert to ensure maximum adherence to the lockdown regulations," said Cele.

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