Police’s quarterly statistics to show if SA crime has dipped during the lockdown
Cape Town - The release of the quarterly crime statistics will reflect crime pattern during the lockdown and hopefully will reflect a downturn that will stay.
Andrew Faull, senior researcher: justice and violence prevention at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said figures presented by the police in late April and May suggested that overall crime and violence plummeted in the first two months of lockdown.
Faull said it was clear in the 68% decline in murder compared with the same period last year.
It was likely that violent crime increased with the move to level 3 and relaxation of restrictions, particularly those linked to movement, economic activity and alcohol.
He said lockdown fatigue, school closures, job losses, and the overall impact of the pandemic on daily life may have also contributed to heightened stress and anxiety, leading to some conflict and crime.
However, Faull said that even where crime has increased since June, it would not necessarily have been reported to police at the usual reporting rates, and was still likely to be lower than the same period last year.
Police Minister Bheki Cele said today’s statistics would reflect crimes that occurred from April 1 to end of June, and would show the crime levels during the time when the country was placed under lockdown level 5, 4 and 3 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nyanga Community Policing Forum (CPF) chairperson Martin Makasi said that he was hoping for a decrease in certain crimes.
However, Xolisa Pukayi, community activist and Philippi East ward committee member for safety and security, said: “Crime will never decrease in Nyanga and Philippi because the City was not paying attention to the areas.”
Pukayi pointed out that the areas had no neighbourhood watches, law enforcement officers and metro police.
“Philippi East police station is not fully equipped to fight against crime which is escalating on a daily basis,” Pukayi said.
Safety and security mayco member JP Smith said while the police were likely to have a better handle on the crime trends, given that incidents were reported to them, anecdotally, the City was expecting a downturn in contact crimes during the period referred to, as a result of the ban on alcohol and the restriction on public movement during the hard lockdown.
Smith said gender-based violence has been a big focus during the time, and so it could be that there would be a marked increase in those types of crimes.
“If one considers the fact that food security and loss of income became more apparent as the lockdown wore on, it might be that we see an increase in theft, robbery and other criminal incidents driven by a need to acquire goods that can be exchanged for cash,” said Smith.
He said it was prudent to remind the public that the increase or decrease in crime was not the biggest challenge.
“The critical problem is the lack of convictions and the impact this has on the continued violence experienced in Cape Town, but also the rest of the country,” said Smith.
Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz welcomed Cele’s commitment to providing quarterly statistics, saying they have long requested those figures, which would provide safety stakeholders in the province with a better indication of how to utilise resources.
Fritz said the release of the figures would guide them in their data-led and evidence-driven approach to reducing crime in the Western Cape.