On Friday, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced the second-quarter crime statistics for South Africa, from 1 July to 30 September.
Cele said that the decrease across different crimes was largely due to lockdown, which meant more people stayed at home and that “there were more boots on the ground”.
Major-General Norman Sekhukhune explained that as lockdown levels moved down, so did the margins of crime decrease.
He said that in September, the first increase in contact crimes was observed, a staggering 1281 cases more than in July.
As the country’s economy gradually opened up and lockdown levels reduced, the “rosy picture” of crime decreases began to fade.
And leading up to the festive season, Cele used the opportunity to caution against the irresponsible consumption of alcohol, saying it was “one of the biggest generators of violent crime”.
Here is a summary of the crime statistics for the second quarter:
Murder figures decreased by 6.2%, with a total of 5107 people killed. This is a 339 reduction, compared to the same period last year.
Cele said it was also the lowest figure for the past four second-quarter crime statistics, from 2017-2018 to date.
Of the total murders, 1922 took place in public spaces.
More than 900 people lost their lives in their own homes, or in the homes of their perpetrators.
Arguments and misunderstanding, as well as robberies, vigilantism and gang conflicts were the main drivers for murder during this time.
Attempted murder increased by 1.8%, an increase of 85 cases.
Interestingly, only two murders in Limpopo were attributed to misunderstanding or arguments, Sekhukhune said.
The number of reported sexual offences, sexual assault, declined by 16.8%, with rape cases decreasing by 18.8%. A total of 8922 rape cases were reported between July and September. The province that recorded the highest rape cases was KwaZulu-Natal.
A sample of 5168 rape dockets revealed that 3578 people were attacked and raped in their homes, or the homes of their perpetrators.
Over 1000 people were raped in public spaces. Most of the victims were women.
Cele once again reiterated his stance on alcohol fuelling violent crime in the country.
He said figures vindicated his stance, with hundreds of murder cases, 829 assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm (GBH), 747 rape cases and 179 attempted murder cases directly linked to the consumption and abuse of alcohol.
Cele warned that criminals were scrambling to make up for “lost time” during the “crime holiday”, or lockdown, in the first quarter of the financial year.
This meant an inevitable increase in residential robberies, which have increased by 8.5%, or by 452 cases.
Business robberies decreased by 8.5%, and trio crimes or carjackings, decreased by 1.6%.
Cash-in-transit (CIT) heists
The gang-related syndicates targeting cash vans were becoming more brazen as the year wound down, Cele summarised, adding that these attacks often took place near innocent bystanders.
CIT robberies increased by 60%, with an increase of 24 cases when compared to the previous quarter.
There have been some breakthroughs, with tactical response teams and Ekurhuleni police officers taking down a gang of CIT robbers in Dawn Park in September. Five of the suspects were killed in a shootout with police at a safe house in the area.
Investigations revealed that the owner of the safe house was a South African Police Service (SAPS) employee.
The Hawks also continued to corner and take down CIT gangs, with three alleged CIT masterminds nabbed in Johannesburg. More than R3.2 million was also recovered.
But more work needed to be done “to infiltrate these gangs and bring CIT robberies to its knees”.
Alarming rates of stock theft were taking place across farming communities in the country.
From July to September, there were 7339 stock theft cases.
In this time, 26,322 sheep were stolen, and more than 14,000 cattle, as well as game, pigs, goats, horses, donkeys and poultry. Cele said the stolen stock often ended up being slaughtered and sold to unsuspecting citizens.
However, stock theft had decreased when compared with the previous quarter, with only cases in the Northern Cape seeing an uptick.
The crime was branded as “economic sabotage”, which will also need to be infiltrated, monitored and investigated.
Cele said a task team had been set up to investigate stock theft in the Free State.
Other notable statistics
Truck hijackings increased by 99 cases to 31.7%. All property-related crimes decreased by 18.7%, or by 22,023 cases. Motor vehicle theft decreased by 17.2%, and residential property burglaries decreased by 21.3%.
There were 13 farm murders that took place in 10 incidents from July and September. There were also 46 robberies, two kidnappings, eight cases of attempted murder, and three rapes that took place in the second quarter.
During the second quarter, 252 police officers lost their lives to Covid-19. Cele passed his condolences to these officers, as well as to those who died in the line of duty.
“I believe there is a war against our officers of the law and we must be ready for the fight,” he said.