Lockdown adds to increase in violent crime
Cape Town - The lockdown had more of an impact on crime than the pandemic with Kraaifontein and Manenberg becoming epicentres of a resurgence in gang warfare.
Experts agree that the lockdown had an effect on crime in South Africa.
Manager of the crime and justice information hub at the Institute for Security Studies, Lizette Lancaster, said the lockdown had more of an impact than the pandemic itself.
“Even under a level 5 hard lockdown in April with strict stay at home orders and curfews in place, 752 or 25 people per day on average were still murdered.
“For quarter one, 3 466 people were still murdered or about 38 murders on average a day.
“This shows that even under the strictest of lockdowns with curfews and alcohol bans, other factors underpin our levels of violence.’
“If the current trends are maintained, we will see an increase in violent crime.
“Property crimes still showed a downward trend but this could change as the economic fallout of the lockdown becomes more apparent.
“However, commercial crime, including cybercrime, is on the increase,” she said.
Data released by SAPS showed that there was a decrease in crime incidents including murders, sexual offences, common assault and rape in quarter one.
However, there were increases in the second and third quarter.
The crime incidents which increased the most over the three quarters were assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily harm followed by sexual offences and rape.
Criminologist at Stellenbosch University's political science department, Guy Lamb, said: “Most categories of reported violent crime decreased significantly during lockdown levels 5 and 4 in 2020 compared to the same periods in 2019.
“This is mainly attributable to restrictions on movement (which translated into less interactions between perpetrators and victims); increased police visibility and reduced access to alcohol.
“Most of the reported levels of violent crime increased noticeably between October and December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.”
He said Kraaifontein and Manenberg have become epicentres of the resurgent gang war in Cape Town, with gangster-on-gangster assassinations being a frequent occurrence in late 2020.
“Similarly, gang violence and retaliations have continued to plague Lenasia.
“There have been a number of mass shootings in Harare and Mfuleni related to local-level organised crime.
“There has also been an increase in the dumping of murder victims in the dune areas close to the ocean in the Harare precinct.
“There has been ongoing lawlessness in Samora Machel, and Plessislaer has been consistently characterised by political assassinations, taxi violence and murders linked to robberies.
“The recent murders in Mitchells Plain are most likely linked to gangs competing with each other over control specific territories in the area (which is part of the larger gang war in Cape Town), with violence being directed at both community members and opposing gangs and a means to assert control and demonstrate dominance,” he added.
Community Safety MEC, Albert Fritz, said he would be expediting the rollout of additional law enforcement and violence prevention efforts through the establishment of Area Based Teams in communities most affected by violent crime.
Meanwhile, in the latest quarterly crime statistics released by SAPS, 164 cases of theft out of motor vehicles were reported at the Claremont Police Station.
From the 30 police stations that reported the highest number of thefts out of motor vehicles, the Western Cape has eight.
This includes: Cape Town Central, Bellville, Woodstock, Wynberg, Bishop Lavis, Claremont, Sea Point and Stellenbosch.
Station commander at Claremont SAPS, colonel Maree Louw, said: “These numbers only reflect the incidents that have been reported to us, but it might be that there are far more that have gone unreported.
“My plea to the public is to report any incident to us no matter how big or small, as it helps us in generating an accurate picture of the true extent of the problem.”