A military policeman questions a person breaking the lockdown rules in the Durban city centre on Wednesday. Crime patterns due to the lockdown are changing experts have noted.
Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)
A military policeman questions a person breaking the lockdown rules in the Durban city centre on Wednesday. Crime patterns due to the lockdown are changing experts have noted. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency(ANA)

Lockdown restrictions are changing crime patterns as thugs target homes and business

By Anelisa Kubheka Time of article published Apr 8, 2020

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Durban - The restriction of public movement and alcohol consumption has begun changing the face of crime in South Africa, as predicted by criminal experts.

This has become apparent as community policing forums in Durban express concern over the increase in certain types of crimes in their areas.

On the Amanzimtoti and Surrounds News Alerts Warnings and Crimes group, Mandy Rudman posted that the tide of crime as they knew it was already changing.

In her post, shared by neighbourhood watch group Montclair Crime Eye, she said house robberies and break-ins at businesses were already increasing.

“There are numerous issues with Uber drivers being targeted, as people driving late at night have become scarce,” she said.

“The next few weeks or months are going to be a trying time for us. Unfortunately, with the SAPS preventing CPFs and neighbourhood watches from patrolling, we are forced to trust in the police, private security companies and our neighbours to help us with protecting our communities, our properties and families.”

Heather Roos, chairperson of the Umbilo Community Policing Forum, said as the lockdown progressed, whoonga addicts were starting to get desperate.

“They are becoming more desperate, leading them to act more daringly and more dangerously. Please, if you do encounter one on your property, take care. Call 10111 and your security company immediately,” said Roos.

She said after a meeting with local officers she learnt that their direct orders were to police lockdown violations, other policing issues and crime.

“There has been no additional help sent to assist our police station, so on lockdown we have our normal members on shift who are trying to do their best. It’s still difficult to cover all the areas and sections that Umbilo SAPS has to police,” said Roos.

She applauded the metro police and security companies for their assistance.

Gareth Newham, head of justice and violence prevention at the Institute for Security Studies, said restricting public movement and alcohol consumption could reduce certain types of crime and violence, but increase others.

Newham said Covid-19 could have a significant impact on crime and public safety, both in the short and long term.

Although it was too early for definitive conclusions on the security impact of responses to the virus, media reports have cited instances elsewhere where restrictions on public movement have yielded some safety benefits.

“The heightened presence of the police and military on the streets, and fewer people moving around might reduce crimes such as street robberies, hijackings and theft.

“However, the security forces cannot be everywhere, all the time. In the initial phase of lockdown, gangs and crime syndicates might find their routine activities disrupted. But they will probably soon adjust, enabled by systemic corruption in the police, weak crime intelligence, and a lack of accountable leadership in law enforcement. This could mitigate against reductions in residential robberies and business burglaries,” he said.

Newham said the ability of police and an under-resourced military to maintain order and ensure public safety depended on their preparedness for a completely new mission. “It also depends on their public credibility. With a population reaching around 60 million, security officials won’t cope with widespread disorder or rebellion, especially if they lack public support. In recent years public trust in the police has declined as a result of widespread corruption and brutality.”

Daily News

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