Crime stats: Alcohol involved in 8.4% of violent crime cases

Police Minister Bheki Cele briefs the media on the annual crime statistics.
Police Minister Bheki Cele briefs the media on the annual crime statistics.
GCIS
  • Alcohol played a role in 8.4% of violent crimes in the 2019-2020 year.
  • Liquor outlets were the third most prevalent setting for violent crime.
  • Earlier in the lockdown, Police Minister Cele attributed a 72% drop in murder cases to the alcohol ban. 

Alcohol played a role in 8.4% of violent crime between 1 April 2019 and 31 March 2020.

Police Minister Bheki Cele, who, in recent months, enthusiastically enforced and lobbied for the banning of alcohol, presented the crime statistics for the previous financial year to the Portfolio Committee on Police on Friday, after which he presented it to the media.

Combined, there were 372 174 murders, attempted murders, and assaults. In 31 322 of these cases, the perpetrators were confirmed to be under the influence of alcohol.

News24 omitted the rape statistics, as there were discrepancies in the figures presented by the police.

The percentages for each of the categories are as follows:
  • Murder: 6.7% (1 430 out of 21 325 cases)
  • Attempted murder: 6.9% (1 294 out of 18 635)
  • Assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm: 11.9% (19 843 out of 166 720)
  • Common assault: 5.3% (8 755 out of 165 494)


The statistics found that liquor outlets - shebeens, taverns, pubs, night clubs and bottle stores - were third on the list of places where violent crimes occurred, after residences and public places like open areas, parks, streets, beaches and abandoned buildings.

At liquor outlets, there were 844 murders, 838 attempted murders, 11 128 assaults with intent to do grievous bodily harm, and 6 298 common assaults.

The statistics cover just four days of the lockdown, which started on 27 March.

The declaration of a state of disaster, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, empowered government to ban or limit the sale of alcohol, which was duly implemented.

While the initial ban was still in force, Cele said if it were up to him, alcohol would be banned permanently.

In April, he attributed the decrease in crime to the prohibition of liquor, heightened security and the lack of usual movement during the lockdown.

He said murder cases dropped by 1 110 cases since 27 March, compared to crime in the period from 29 March 2019 to 22 April 2019.

He said between 27 March and 22 April, 432 murder cases were reported, compared to 1 542 over the same period the previous year. This was a drop of about 72%, News24 reported at the time.

When Cele released last year's crime statistics, on 12 September 2019, he was asked if he supported the stricter regulation of alcohol.

"I don't wine and dine, I dine," he answered, adding that, as a teetotaller, he couldn't speak with much authority about the issue, but that alcohol indeed fuelled crime.

The following week at the briefing with the Portfolio Committee on Police, he was asked about the influence of alcohol, and said: "Shebeens are centres of death."

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