Police Minister Bheki Cele Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Police Minister Bheki Cele Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Cele welcomes drop in crime, but gender-based violence cases still high

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Apr 5, 2020

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Cape Town – Police Minister Bheki Cele welcomed the general decrease in serious and violent crimes, compared to the same period last year, after the first week of a national lockdown on Sunday morning.

He attributed this, among other factors, to the prohibition of the sale and movement of liquor since the Covid-19 nationwide lockdown, the Ministry of Police said in a statement.

A disturbing statistic, however, is that regarding gender-based violence, Cele confirmed that the number of complaints remained high and therefore concerning. 

Analysing the crime and comparing the first week of the lockdown to the same period in 2019, Cele said that:

* Murder cases had dropped from 326 to 94;

* Rape cases dropped from 699 to 101;

* Cases of assault with the intention to inflict grievous bodily harm dropped from 2 673 to 456; and

* Trio crimes dropped from 8 853 to 2 098.

The 2019-2020 National Crime Statistics are yet to be officially released by Cele to Parliament at a later stage this year, so therefore, the analysis done is a preliminary report that has yet to undergo the necessary verification and endorsements, the Police Ministry said.

Car/truck hijacking, business robberies, and house robberies, which are collectively grouped as trio crimes, are arguably the most violent crimes where the perpetrators are commonly armed with illegal firearms. These are the type of crimes that are known to instil fear among our citizens.

Over 2 300 gender-based violence calls/complaints have been registered since the beginning of the lockdown on 27 March until 31 March and, from these, 148 suspects were charged. 

The figure in relation to calls/complaints between January 2020 and 31 March stands at 15 924. 

Once all reports have been consolidated, the figures will be measured against the number of calls/complaints received through the GBV Command Centre in 2019, where the figure stands at 87 920.

With the initial declaration of the Covid-19 State of Disaster on 15 March, Cele flagged as a concern the possible increase in GBV and domestic violence cases. 

The minister had urged the management of the SAPS to reinforce the FCS Units (Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences) at police stations to ensure the SAPS readiness and capacity to respond to related complaints.

"Considering the improved rate of life sentences secured by the FCS Units in the past, one is optimistic that police will continue to work around the clock towards securing successful convictions and long term sentences of perpetrators of crimes against women and children.

"This should remain the practice even beyond the lockdown as GBV remains a scourge across the country," remarked Minister Cele.

Cele has also welcomed the drop in the number of complaints against the police during the lockdown.

"The decrease in the number of complaints, which were high over the first days of the lockdown, reflects stabilisation and confirms that people are now beginning to understand the lockdown and are complying with the regulations, and that people are now cooperating with the members of the law enforcement entities," confirmed Cele.

The past week was generally characterised by long queues at grocery stores and social grant paypoints. This week, Cele anticipates improved adherence to the regulations, particularly in relation to the restriction of movement of people and traffic on the roads.

The SAPS, SANDF, Metro Police and other law enforcement agencies will remain on high alert to ensure maximum adherence to the lockdown regulations, the Police Ministry said.

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