Murder cases down by 72% - Cele attributes drop to alcohol ban, increased patrols and lockdown

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The prohibition of alcohol sales and increased police and army presence during the Covid-19 national lockdown has greatly reduced crime, Police Minister Bheki Cele said on Wednesday when he released crime statistics for the lockdown period.

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He also lauded police for arresting 89 of their own since March 27.

"Due to the lockdown, the heightened visibility reinforced by the deployment of the SANDF (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," Cele told a group of officers and members of the media in Durban on Wednesday.

He was in the province to monitor heightened security measures since Monday after the eThekwini metro was identified as a Covid-19 hotspot in the province and country.

The minister 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 March 27, compared to crime in the period from 29 March 2019 to 22 April 2019.

During the lockdown period, 432 murder cases were reported, compared to 1 542 during the same period the previous year. This is a drop of about 72%.

The numbers

Rape was one of the most significant drops in reported cases - down by 371 to 2 537, compared to 2 908 in the same period last year.

Attempted murder was down to just 443 cases - a decrease of 857 cases from 1 300 last year.

Assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm was down to 1 758 - a reduction of a whopping 10 118 cases compared to last year's 11 876.

Robbery with aggravating circumstances was at 2 022 cases, down by 4 632 from 2019's 6 654 reported cases.

Carjacking was also down to 219, compared to 1 146 last year - a difference of 927 reported cases.

Turning to the much-debated issue of domestic violence, Cele said there were 3 061 reported cases since the lockdown - a decrease of 6 929 from last year's 9 990 cases in the same period.

"In four of the incidents during the lockdown, the 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."  

Public officials and cops arrested

Cele also lauded police for the arrest of 89 of their own since the beginning of the lockdown.

Police arrested 131 members of security forces, government officials and public office bearers, specifically councillors, he said.

"They include two sergeants from Katlehong in Gauteng who were arrested after allegedly demanding a bribe from a businessman who had contravened the lockdown regulations, on Monday, promising the businessman that they would destroy the docket if he paid them R12 000."

He added that 107 000 cases were opened and more than 118 000 people charged for the contravention of lockdown regulations.

These include liquor-related offences, illegal gatherings, failure to confine to place of residence, cross-border movement, business-related arrests and transport-related arrests.

Of those who were arrested, 42 388 are before court.

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