Lockdown: NPA notices increase in poverty related crime as 'communities feel the pinch'

2020-04-29 23:29
NPA boss Shamila Batohi. (Daily Sun, file)

NPA boss Shamila Batohi. (Daily Sun, file)

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It is evident communities are "starting to feel the financial pinch" due to the Covid-19 pandemic as indicated by an increase in crimes such as theft, robbery, fraud and housebreaking, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has found.

National Director of Public Prosecutions Shamila Batohi told the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services and Select Committee on Security and Justice during a virtual meeting on Wednesday she expected to see an increase in poverty related crimes.

"We must deal with these cases in a compassionate way," she added.

According to the NPA's presentation, during the first phase of the Covid-19 lockdown period, from 27 March to 16 April, 11 111 first-appearance cases and 13 522 accused were dealt with by courts.

Trend

An upward trend was noted at the end of the first phase of the lockdown period in the number of contraventions and more specifically, the number of arrested accused.

"[It is] evident that communities are also starting to feel the financial pinch as indicated by increase in crimes such as theft, robbery, fraud, housebreaking, etc," read the presentation.

There was a huge inflow of cases noted on Mondays and a significant spike in first-appearance cases was more prominent on 14 April (after the Easter weekend), when the courts dealt with 2 664 cases involving 3 313 accused.

During the extended or second phase of the Covid-19 lockdown period, 27 March to date, 5 591 cases with 6 846 accused were dealt with by the courts.

Crimes

Apart from the failure to confine to a residence, an increase was also noted in the contravention of the regulation regarding the failure to close a place or premise to all persons while the place/premise was not involved in the provision of essential goods.

Non-essential goods, such as alcohol, were mostly sold or consumed on these premises.

Earlier on Wednesday, the police provided statistics to the Portfolio Committee on Police and Select Committee Security and Justice.

According to these statistics, 109 085 cases relating to the contravention of lockdown regulations were opened between 27 March and 17 April. The most cases were "residential-related offences", while 1 096 were alcohol-related.

READ | Cele: ban on alcohol helped us contain Covid-19

The Western Cape had the most cases, with 28 158, of which 25 983 were "residential-related offences".

There were 117 charges against government officials of which 97 were police officers, while 74 charges were laid against SA National Defence Force members.

Read more on:    npa  |  shamila batohi  |  coronavirus
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