Gauteng should brace itself for a rise in future statistics as crime levels peak and get back to “normal” following the relaxation of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
This was said on Friday by the Gauteng provincial police commissioner, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, during the release of the crime statistics for the fourth quarter of the 2020/21 financial year.
However, Mawela said the spike in crime levels was not as a result of poor performance by the police.
He described it as the “harsh realities lying ahead” in that crime statistics this year – which cover the last quarter of the 2020/21 financial year – cannot be expected to yield the same statistics, which were generally lower due to the Covid-19 stringent lockdown restrictions that were put in place last March.
Recently released statistics indicated a general reduction in crime over that period.
Mawela said this was “during the period when the country was under lockdown level 3 and adjusted level 1, as the country continued to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Basically, Covid-19 regulations were less stringent at that time, meaning that life was almost back to normal,” he said.
“The first quarter of 2020/21 was during the period when the country was under hard lockdown. During that period, we saw crime go down to unprecedented levels, purely because movement of people was restricted.
“When comparing the first quarter of this year with the same period last year, rest assured it will look like crime has gone totally out of hand. However, this is only a confirmation that crime is going back to normal and subsequently crime patterns are going back to normality.”
Mawela urged people to understand the anticipated surge in crime levels by reflecting it against the Covid-19 lockdown levels.
“We anticipate an uphill battle in terms of the crime picture in the coming quarter due to the impact of risk-adjusted strategies and subsequent restrictions as per lockdown level.
“The interpretation of the crime picture of the future quarter will need to be contextualised so that the statistics are not misconstrued as the worst performance ever by the SA Police Service,” Mawela said.
Meanwhile, the 2020/21 fourth-quarter crime statistics show that crime has generally dropped, with a 14.6% decrease recorded under the category known as community-reported serious crimes. This translated to 16 461 fewer in comparison to the same period last year.
“The reduction was as a result of a drop in all broad categories of crimes, namely contact-related crimes, property-related crimes and other serious crimes.
“This becomes noteworthy as we, alongside other law enforcement agencies and private sector partners, continue to work together in our effort to balance crime prevention and combating with the enforcement of Covid-19 lockdown disaster management regulations,” Mawela said.
The provincial commissioner said a reduction of 9.9% in contact crimes, which included murder and attempted murder, assault, robbery and sexual offences, among other crimes, was recorded. This translates to 4 238 fewer cases than the number recorded over the same period last year.
The same could not be said about the number of murder cases in the province during the period under review.
“Of concern is that murder increased by 3.9% [with 966 cases registered], which translated to 36 cases more than the same period last year, with Johannesburg being the only district to record a reduction in the number of cases registered.
“In our analysis, we find that the top three contributors to the general increase in murder cases are arguments and misunderstandings not related to domestic violence by 144 cases, followed by robberies,” Mawela said.