Bheki Cele: Crime stats vindicate alcohol ban

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Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Melinda Stuurman
Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Melinda Stuurman

Police Minister Bheki Cele has reaffirmed his assertion that the alcohol ban during the national lockdown is the reason for the decrease in crime rates, this time waving crime statistics as evidence.

“The ban on alcohol has dealt decisively with crime, compared with times when alcohol was acceptable,” Cele said while addressing the media in Durban on Wednesday.

He compared statistics between March and April 2019 with the same period this year to make the point that contact and the trio crimes – house robbery, business robbery and vehicle hijacking – had drastically decreased.

Last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa initiated a national lockdown which saw liquor businesses doors shut.

Owing to the lockdown, the heightened visibility reinforced by the deployment of the SA National Defence Force and other variables such as the prohibition of the sale of liquor, we have seen a significant drop across most crime categories.
Bheki Cele

Cele said murder statistics had decreased by 72% in April, with 1 542 cases recorded in 2019 compared with 432 this year. Rape was down 87.2%, with 2 908 rapes in 2019 compared with 371 during the same period in 2020.

Assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm was down 85.2%, with 11 876 cases recorded in 2019 compared with 1 758 under lockdown. Attempted murder was down 65.9%, with 443 cases recorded under lockdown compared with 1 300 last year.

Cele said more than 190 roadblocks had been held daily countrywide, and 681 vehicle checkpoints mounted to improve law enforcement visibility.

“Both day and night, including weekends, members of security forces have been patrolling the streets. Raids have been conducted, which have seen illegal liquor outlets shut down and non-essential services such as mines, factories and other companies busted.

“Owing to the lockdown, the heightened visibility reinforced by the deployment of the SA National Defence Force and other variables such as the prohibition of the sale of liquor, we have seen a significant drop across most crime categories.

“We will, at appropriate time after the lockdown, give a comprehensive crime picture as we are yet to table the 2019/20 crime statistics to Parliament,” Cele said.

He added that he was pleased that gender-based violence cases had also decreased, compared with the time when alcohol was permitted.

“The national picture reflects a decrease of -69.4%, from 9 990 cases between March 29 and April 22 last year to 3 061 since the lockdown until April 20 2020, meaning a difference of 6 929.

“In four of the incidents during the lockdown, boyfriends were allegedly killed by their girlfriends and in two of these incidents the murder was a result of an argument over liquor. In one incident the boyfriend refused to go out to buy liquor and in the other incident the couple was under the influence of alcohol,” the minister said.

According to Cele, robbery with aggravating circumstances also decreased by 69.6%, with 2 022 cases this past month compared with 6 654 in the same period last year; while hijacking was down 80.9%, with 219 cases under lockdown compared with 1 146 last year.


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